So how would you solve Iraq?

I come with the question and neither an answer nor an attitude:

So how would you solve Iraq?

And, no, “getting the hell out of there” is not an acceptable answer, dooming the Iraqis to the civil war many have already declared, and to worsening bloodshed and anarchy. From a humanitarian — that is, a liberal — perspective, we cannot abandon these people to such terror.

Neither is it acceptable to answer the question with the question, “How the hell did we get there?” We’re there. Madeline Bunting in the Guardian and in Comment is Free insists that we cannot be “deleting the past.” I will stipulate that along with much more: that the war is not over and we cannot see the end, that the preparation and execution of this policy have not worked, that the incumbents do not know what to do. So fine, if we acknowledge all that, if we end the argument, where are we? Still in Iraq. Still in the mess.

Norm Geras does not agree. He is a fellow Commenter and, like me, a liberal hawk and a warblogger, as we used to be called. Geras blogged his response to Bunting here, refusing her call to account, refusing to confess that this war and the one in Afghanistan are failures and that democracy will not work there. He will not apologize.

But even if he and I and all the hawks, liberal or conservative, agreed to agree with Bunting et al, we are all still no closer to peace in Iraq. Bush and Blair do not have the solution. So what is yours? You must find one, for just as you cannot abandon the Iraqis to this mess we got them into, you cannot abandon policy to those who made the mess, right? What is the liberal solution? That should be the agenda now.

So you are the prime minister or the president tomorrow. You have inherited this unholy war. You recognize your humanitarian obligation to the Iraqi people as well as to your own soldiers and citizens. You are now setting the agenda, now in charge. So what are you to do? If you don’t come up with a new answer, all we will have is the old one.

This is not a smart-assed question. It is the question we should be answering. What can the U.S. and the U.K. do now? The United Nations? The European countries who opposed this war? The Arab nations? The left? I am honestly eager to see your answer. We need one.

: Cross-posting to Comment is Free, which is why I wrote it: to read the comments there.

  • afsvfan

    - outsource the war to india and china. they can take care of it
    for super cheap

    – bring howard stern over there and millions of people will listen to
    him instead of fighting

    – give them google guys a few billion more and they can fix it

    – put some casinos over there and turn it into vegas

    – let hollywood celebs figure it out they are smarter than normal people

    – put 100 walmarts …people stop fighting and start shopping.

    – get spiderman, batman and superman over there

    – this war could last another 25 years or so….future presidents will
    have to deal with this . can future presidents fix any of this ?

  • http://writingup.com/ashok ashok

    1. Kill Saddam in his prison cell, and end this sham trial. The trouble with the trial is that he’s making a mockery of the current govt’s institutions. He should have been shot when we caught him anyway; since he wasn’t killed then, it’ll have to look like a suicide now.

    2. Create incentives for the tribes to recognize Constitutional authority as supreme. The biggest problem is not the Sunni’s bringing in Al-Qaeda fighters and waging their own regional wars. The really big problem is that it is unclear how many of the Shiites and Kurds care for the current regime. If the Iraqi army is formed and has to quell a tribal uprising, will it face divisions from within by members of the tribe who can’t turn on their brethren? Right now, it most certainly will.

    A parallel with our history might be made with the Whiskey Rebellion: what we want is an army in Iraq devoted to order and the rule of law, that’s not going to be affected by every regional grievance.

    So, long term: Let’s get their kids into schools and secular universities and end the more primitive tribal connections. Within a generation, we might be able to ensure that Iraq is composed of people committed to a modern secular order which dispenses citizenship to nearly anyone.

    Short term: Women have to be protected at all costs. It must be made clear that the excesses of tribalism are unacceptable to Western codes of conduct, and that if the Iraqis want our support and aid, they must play by our rules. Army and police units need to force people of different tribes to work together – we need Iraqi officers who are committed to a vision of an Iraq that is stable, and who can inspire loyalty independent of creed or clan.

    3. Get that national army up and running, and make sure it is under Parliament’s authority. We want the Iraqis to feel confident they have a nation. Nothing says “I have a nation” like an army that parades around reminding dissidents what sort of force a “nation” may command.

    4. Eliminating the Sunnis as a power. This does not mean massacring them, not at all. But the fact they have any power after their rule with Saddam is a disgrace. The Sunnis should be a wing of one of the bigger parties. There should not be any independent Sunni parties whatsoever.

    5. Getting a few strong, just charismatic men to be gov’t prosecutors/investigators and cleaning corruption from within. Charismatic figures need to be set up as a crusaders for justice, and have to take on the more corrupt figures of the gov’t. So that they doesn’t get too powerful, there should be several of them, and throwing corruption charges at them to ruin their reputation once they’ve done their job is fine.

    That would be my plan.

  • http://writingup.com/ashok ashok

    1. Kill Saddam in his prison cell, and end this sham trial. The trouble with the trial is that he’s making a mockery of the current govt’s institutions. He should have been shot when we caught him anyway; since he wasn’t killed then, it’ll have to look like a suicide now.

    2. Create incentives for the tribes to recognize Constitutional authority as supreme. The biggest problem is not the Sunni’s bringing in Al-Qaeda fighters and waging their own regional wars. The really big problem is that it is unclear how many of the Shiites and Kurds care for the current regime. If the Iraqi army is formed and has to quell a tribal uprising, will it face divisions from within by members of the tribe who can’t turn on their brethren? Right now, it most certainly will.

    A parallel with our history might be made with the Whiskey Rebellion: what we want is an army in Iraq devoted to order and the rule of law, that’s not going to be affected by every regional grievance.

    So, long term: Let’s get their kids into schools and secular universities and end the more primitive tribal connections. Within a generation, we might be able to ensure that Iraq is composed of people committed to a modern secular order which dispenses citizenship to nearly anyone.

    Short term: Women have to be protected at all costs. It must be made clear that the excesses of tribalism are unacceptable to Western codes of conduct, and that if the Iraqis want our support and aid, they must play by our rules. Army and police units need to force people of different tribes to work together – we need Iraqi officers who are committed to a vision of an Iraq that is stable, and who can inspire loyalty independent of creed or clan.

    3. Get that national army up and running, and make sure it is under Parliament’s authority. We want the Iraqis to feel confident they have a nation. Nothing says “I have a nation” like an army that parades around reminding dissidents what sort of force a “nation” may command.

    4. Eliminating the Sunnis as a power. This does not mean massacring them, not at all. But the fact they have any power after their rule with Saddam is a disgrace. The Sunnis should be a wing of one of the bigger parties. There should not be any independent Sunni parties whatsoever.

    5. Getting a few strong, just, charismatic men to be gov’t prosecutors/investigators and cleaning corruption from within. Charismatic figures need to be set up as a crusaders for justice, and have to take on the more corrupt figures of the gov’t. So that they doesn’t get too powerful, there should be several of them, and throwing corruption charges at them to ruin their reputation once they’ve done their job is fine.

    That would be my plan.

  • http://www.italknews.com/matt.safford Matt Safford

    Funny afsvfan, but I’m not sure the situation warrants jokes anymore, if it ever did.

    The only real solution I see is this, taken from an excerpt of an article I wrote in mid-January:

    1. How the U.S. can get out of Iraq:

    The president himself needs to go on international television, preferably before the U.N., and admit that he and his advisors made many mistakes in Iraq. He should appeal to the world for its assistance in stabilizing the country, remind the world that a stable Iraq is in the best interests of everyone (except perhaps Iran), and admit that we cannot do it alone. We should agree to pull out all U.S. contractors, and allow in international reconstruction firms, with the provision that they actually hire Iraqis to do the majority of the labor, thus providing jobs for people who might otherwise become insurgents. While foreign peace-keepers move in, the majority of our troops could return home, as the U.S. military shifts roles from Iraq occupation force, to contributing nation to the new Iraqi peace coalition.

    Of course, this presupposes that enough nations would actually commit to this, which at this point might be doubtful. Still, I think it’s the only possible solution, and of course it will never happen under the current leadership. Instead, we’ll begin to shift (as we already have) to an air war, which could potentially go on for decades, lest a better leader comes along with a real solution.

    In essence, the solution now was the solution then; we needed a real coalition at the start of this war and the number of troops Shinseki and Powell (the people with real war experience) said we needed. If we wish to turn things around, we need that now.

    I wish Shinseki/Powell were wrong, but they weren’t. I wish I was wrong. I wish we didn’t go in there to begin with. I fought it with both pen and protest. But you’re right Jeff, we’re there and we need to find a sensible way out, regardless of whether going in there was sensible or not.

    But if I was wrong and things went the other way, I’d be man enough to admit it and move on. Perhaps (yes, just perhaps) if our leaders could do the same, even at this late date, we might be able to salvage something and move on. Until then we’ll only remain where we are, digging ourselves deeper and deeper.

  • http://charlesstricklin.com Charles W. Stricklin

    I’d settle for tracing the WMD to Syria, where we all suspect they went anyway, and deposing that little nitwit, followed by having Iran have a “little accident” with their nuclear reactors.

  • http://leongreen.wordpress.com/ leon

    I’ll repost what I posted over at the Comment Is Free site:

    The United Nations in my view is the answer. Hand over control (with the Iraqi “government” on the steering group) to the UN. Get them to replace the US/UK forces (which frankly are a big part of the problem over there) with blue capped peacekeepers drawn from nearby nations (so the general look of foreign soldiers is not white/western). You’d probably need to consider the idea, via the UN, of Iraq becoming a federation of three semi-automonous countries (Sunni, Shiite and Kurd).

    Seize all assets stolen or bought by US and UK corporations and create a trust, UN (with full UN transparent oversight) controlled, to use the countries natural wealth to rebuild it. With the newly formed Iraqi authority establish a managed and realistic time table for complete handover (this will probably take between 5-10 years to complete).

    Maybe I’m hopelessly naive but it seems to me that no western (super) power can sort this and it will take the international community, instructed by the Iraqi people, under international law to resolve the mess we’ve helped create.

  • http://www.wagesofspin.blogspot.com Alexandra Pullin

    Well I bet they wish they had given the inspectors more time!
    Also one can only hope that that in the future things are slightly better thought out before we go rushing in – you could tell this was doomed from the vrey moment the phrase ‘it’ll all be over by Christmas’ was used.

    I don’t have the answer but if we cannot learn from out mistakes then this will keep happening. We already are running a book on where the next generations Vietnam/Iraq will happen.

  • http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/ John

    One thing you may want to consider is: that the US military will not get in the middle of a civil war. So, whether they are there or not really doesn’t matter at this point.

  • http://www.tyndallreport.com Andrew Tyndall

    John —

    Planning for a civil war is precisely the point of this post, as I understand it.

    You predict : “The US military will not get in the middle of a civil war.” BuzzMachine flatly contradicts you: “From a humanitarian — that is, a liberal — perspective, we cannot abandon these people to such terror.”

    Imagine militias escalating current death squad activity into all-out sectarian warfare. Image if the Shiite militias of the Interior Ministry start fighting one another on faultlines such as maximal-vs-regional power, or various degrees of clerical control.

    If those dangers are realistic, then the current US policy of arming and training local army and police forces is a recipe for disaster. All that does is make all potential sides in such civil conflict even more skilled at killing.

    Yet that policy — arming and training — is announced as the essential pre-requisite for withdrawal.

    When BuzzMachine evokes “such terror” it envisions Guatemala, or Srebrenica, or — God forbid — Rwanda.

    It is not clear, John, when you predict non-US involvement in any civil war whether you approve or disapprove.

    I presume that BuzzMachine would insist on the duty of the US military to be squarely in the middle of a civil war, disarming and separating all sides, actively preventing integrated neighborhoods from being ethnically cleansed, and so on.

    If the cause of the violence in Iraq is resistance against foreign occupation, then the principled thing is for the occupier to leave.

    If the cause is sectarian vendettas, then the principled thing is for the occupier to step into the middle.

    If the cause is terrorist cells seeking to disrupt civil society, then the principled thing is for the occupier to help arm and train the government.

    If the cause is warlordism, then the principled thing is for the occupier to help defuse and disarm all factions, including those operating, for the time being, under government colors.

    Well this is the horns of a dilemma!

  • RonP

    I think Mr. Tyndall sums this up nicely. Now what we need is resolve. This can only come from our President, not from a feckless, corrupt UN, or a traitorous (yes i did use the term and i mean it.) domestic opposition. Win it or get out. And this time if we run we had better pull up the gang planks from behind us. If we run it will be one of those civilisation changing events – and not for the good.

    Makes me wistful for the notion of McCarthur and Patton’s vision of a Pax Americana – probably would have saved alot of innocent lives.

  • Erik

    There is a civil war.

    The civil war was inevitable with the removal of the dictator and the American insistance that Iraq remain a single country.

    The civil war will end when a new dicator takes power or the Iraq breaks into separate countries.

    Iraq as a country is a legal fiction created by the whim of the British.

  • EB

    E PLURIBUS UNUM

    or

    civil war.

    it is not up to us, it is up to the Iraqis.

  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society Robert Feinman

    If you assume, as I do, that the goals of the invasion were:

    1. Establish permanent bases in Iraq to replace those lost in Saudi Arabia

    2. Install a client government that will agree to favorable oil deals

    3. Intimidate surrounding Arab states

    4. Limit China’s ability to purchase mid-east oil

    Then future US policy is clear.

    1. The permanent bases are almost complete. Murtha’s misunderstood suggestion about withdrawal wasn’t from Iraq, but just to the bases.

    2. The client government is still a work in progress.

    3. Arab states have become more compliant, especially Syria and Libya

    4. China is now making oil deals in much less favorable places because of lack of access to prime oil nations

    It was “impossible” for the US to withdraw from Vietnam, but it did so anyway. We will “withdraw” as soon as our bases are ready. What happens to the locals is not a foreign policy concern. If the American people were really concerned about the Arab man in the street, they would have stopped buying SUV’s a long time ago. We want cheap oil, and we don’t care what happens in the countries where it comes from.

  • http://blogs.rny.com/sbw/ sbw

    The mistake is to think that the solution to Iraq lies in Iraq when it lies instead in a “the emperor has no clothes on” change of mind for all of us who desire to find a basis for differing cultures to knit together into greater society. See Turning Point to see “Why now?” and Why democracy” to see “What now?”

    Go back to the simplest of societies and ask yourself, “Why should two people should work together?”, “What is the minimum they should agree upon?”, and, once I understand that, “On what basis can I get someone of a different culture and mindset to work with me?”

    By the way, does it surprise you to find none of this taught in schools? And what are you going to do about it? “No longer is it safe to put faith in the idea that the Magus, the initiate, the elect, can run the world for you while you lazily live life according to the luxury of an incoherent set of clichés and past beliefs.”

  • Thedude

    I don’t think you can win the peace after a any war unless the majority of young men are killed in it. Men are the problem. Too many survived this war and now are all fighting to get the upper hand. Unless you decrease the numbers drastically, they will continue to fight. Since this is not an option, the first thing we need to do is get rid of Bush and Blair. Bring someone in that can work with NATO and pass the protection of the country on to them. Since Bush is not planning on leaving (check out the large permanent bases being built in Iraq) the problem is not going away. The thing is the chaos is the best thing for the US leadership if their goal is to stay long term.

  • http://www.dailykos.com Overthrow Redstates

    From The Nation magazine, an announcement of a week of anti-war festivities:

    There are also more than 500 antiwar events planned nationally to mark the third anniversary of the war…One of the most fun antiwar events on the slate — the Bring ‘Em Home Now! concert — takes place this Monday, March 20, at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC. Please join RadioNation’s Laura Flanders, Cindy Sheehan, Susan Sarandon, Margaret Cho, Chuck D, Anthony Arnove and musical guests Michael Stipe, Rufus Wainwright, Peaches, Steve Earle, Bright Eyes, Fischerspooner, among many others.

    Tickets are priced at $28, $35 and $150 VIP (including cocktail party with Cindy Sheehan).

  • Angelos

    This can only come from our President, not from a feckless, corrupt UN, or a traitorous (yes i did use the term and i mean it.) domestic opposition.

    Ahh, of course. The 60+ percent of the country who realize what a fustercluck this is are traitors. That’s some critical thinking right there! Get that from Rush, Michele, or Bill? What exactly have you done in your life, you fuck, to earn the right to call those who disagree with you a traitor? Buy a keyboard and internet access? Is that the pedestal from which you hurl your bullshit?

    “Your” president has no moral authority from which to act anymore. He’s done. A 3-year lame duck.

    Maybe if the military people had been running this all along, maybe if people who had actual military experience were considered the authority, instead of neocons who wanted “to make their own reality,” things might have turned out differently.

    Even better, if the maybe if the admin had actually read the reports they paid $5 million to have drawn up a year before the invasion, they would have a) realized the folly of their ways, or b) actually had a plan, other than “blow shit up.”

    Three years later, failure after failure after failure, we have Operation Swarmer, or alternatively, “Blow Shit Up 2.” Like that’s going to change anything.

    That all said:
    • one of our biggest failures post-Saddam, one that can be easily rectified, was the failure to hire Iraqis to fix Iraq. We threw unending (and unaccounted-for) billions down the drain so we could enrich our buddies at Haliburton et al, when all we needed was to do was hire Iraqis at 1/100th the price. What, does Haliburton have some magical way of pouring concrete that one of the most educated Muslim countries doesn’t? That was probably Mistake #1. Do you hate it when someone tells you how to do your job? Some arrogant little know-it-all prick just gets transferred, in, or becomes your new supervisor because they hired from outside? Well, factor that by 1000, and that’s us in Iraq. No wonder they hate us. We destroyed their country, didn’t rebuild it, and wouldn’t let THEM rebuild it.
    • Mistake #2 is not fixable. The immediate disbanding of the Iraqi Army and the de-Baathification of other offices was completely misguided, completely wrong. Most of these people just played along to get by in Saddam’s Iraq, knowing what the alternative is. But why do you think his army was so friggin’ bad? Other than his Elite Guard, the rest were underfed and underpaid grunts. All we had to do was befriend them, and we had an experienced army with local authority at our side. Instead, we figured (again, the know-it-alls) we’d build one from scratch. And in 3 years, we have exactly zero Iraqi battalions ready.

    What do we do? For one, the American flag is nothing but an inflammatory presence there. Now, the “coalition of the willing” is kind of a joke, but UN Peacekeeping forces doing most of the patrolling while we still have a strong presence in the area might work. Like Feiman says, we will have our bases soon. But to what end will our guys just be sitting there? The occasional foray out to fix the pipelines that some schmucks from one faction or another blow up?

    We also put Iraqis in charge. We can’t abandon them completely, but hey, they elected something like a government, let ‘em govern. Wasn’t that our goal? Let them establish a police force. Our presence nearby would serve to protect them from Iran/Syria/other, because Iraq won’t have an army for a looooong while.

    But who gets the oil? That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

    Unfortunately, Erik isn’t that far off though. This is really three countries, that only held it together under an iron fist. No iron fist, no “country.”

    But I don’t suspect anyone in this administration was familiar with that reality.

  • http://www.dailykos.com Overthrow Redstates

    We can overthrow Bush and install a progressive, socialist government. That is what we true progressives are seeking.

  • Andy Freeman

    Folks who think that the UN should take over should identify the relevant assets, especially the military ones. Unless you’re going to bring in Russian and/or Chinese troops, there aren’t enough troops in the world to take over for the US.

    It’s unclear why there’s so much enthusiasm for UN participation. UN Peacekeeping hasn’t worked yet, unless “worked” means “get the protectees killed and set up some sex-trade”.

  • http://www.oliverwillis.com Oliver

    Send in the warbloggers! Because its only the likes of Jeff Jarvis, Glenn Reynolds, etc. who think there’s any salvaging left to salvage this abortion of a war. The future of Iraq is up to Iraqis. Too many Americans have died to install yet another Islamic republic in the middle east (the real power in Iraq is Sistani, Sadr, etc., not the elected people), while Al Qaeda (remember them?) flourishes. Time to redeploy and get back to business.

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  • DavidByron

    There is only one lawful and moral solution and that is to obey the law.

    But you already ruled that out didn’t you? So you are asking what the best solution is within shall we say the “Nazi” frame of mind — the mindset where military force is acceptable and murdering thousands of people is acceptable and terrorising the population with torture is acceptable (or even “humanitarian” I think you called it). I guess within that mindest I wouldn’t even know how to define “best” since I’m not a Nazi. Does “best” solution mean how best to steal their oil and crush their resistance? What are you aiming for here?

  • Erik

    The funniest thing about Ashok’s plan is it is pretty much exactly what Saddam did to take over in the first place.

    “1. Kill Saddam in his prison cell, and end this sham trial.”

    It’s always good to just summarily execute the previous leadership. That’s what Saddam did.

    “2. Create incentives for the tribes to recognize Constitutional authority as supreme.”

    This pretty much means choose your favorites, and make them local proxies for your power. Saddam did this too.

    “3. Get that national army up and running, and make sure it is under Parliament’s authority.”

    No better way to project your will than having a loyal army. Worked for Saddam…

    “4. Eliminating the Sunnis as a power.”

    Saddam eliminated the Shi’ia as a power. If they made trouble after that he killed them.

    So how many thousand American lives is it worth to change Iraq from a Sunni led dictatorship to a Shi’ia led Dictorship.

    People (women in particular), would be far more free under Saddam than Moqtada al Sadr.

  • http://www.tomdevine.net Tom Devine

    There is nothing to apologize for and no need to change. Press on, currently policies will work if given time.

  • http://nosmallmatter.blogspot.com Jack Roy

    What is this, Zen Koan hour? What do you mean, how do you fix it and no-fair-saying-it-can’t-be-fixed? What if it can’t be fixed?

    We removed the old regime (the terrible one, although Iraq is the best latter-day example for Leviathan’s point that sometimes the citizenry must be terrified if they are to be obedient and peaceful) and we left a system for democratic elections. Iraq isn’t going to look like Belgium if U.S. troops stay there just a little longer. Responsible people should recognize the possibility that we’ve done all we can do.

    And it’s not dodging the question to advocate withdrawal rather than throwing more money and lives away on a cause that may very well be lost. It just doesn’t have the happy ending that advocates of the war thought they were going to get. Blaming the war opponents whom you sneered at when we cautioned you against this war doesn’t change that, and it doesn’t somehow make us responsible for the continued failure in Iraq.

  • http://writingup.com/ashok ashok

    Erik – you’re half-right. National unity means power has to be implemented and exercised, and it looks like national unity, which will create order & security, is a prerequisite to a working democracy.

    Please don’t be unfair to me, though, and imply any creation of centralized power is the same thing as bringing Saddam back. Someone could say, after all, that any thought that does not consider power properly is nothing more than anarchism thinly veiled, and not even deserving of thought. I won’t say that because any political idea worth something is always a middle road – in trying to create a nat’l gov’t, I’m trying to weaken the power of regional actors, all the while knowing I’m dependent on them to make this work. Similarly, in proposing that the centralization of power is a bad thing, you imply that there are other ideals that are at stake, and I don’t want to dismiss them.

  • http://amomentwith.typepad.com/ Easycure

    As I have said before, I liken Iraq to post-war Germany. The people aren’t used to such freedom, and it’s going to take much time for them to understand how to take advantage of it in a peacefulo manner.

    Another similarity is the strategic advantages to keeping American forces in Iraq much as mid-1940’s Germany. There are threats all around Iraq geographically, and so staying there with some presence for the next decade or three makes much sense.

    Not too far down the road military families will be able to be together there, in 2/3 year tours much like the rest of the world. It’s not a bad scenario, because for our families to be raising children there, it means that it’s usually just as safe for Iraqi children.

  • Erik

    Ashok, to a certain extent I was merely being flippant.

    That said, I do believe that any centralized government in Iraq that has enough power to control the various factions is going to end up looking and behaving an awful lot more like Saddam’s government than anything we would consider a western democracy.

    If I had the choice between a secular tyranny in Iraq (like Saddam’s) or a religious tyranny in Iraq (like you’re going to end up with as Sistani/Sadr consolidate power) I’d take the secular tyranny any day. Secular tyrants are driven by earthly desires (like money), religious tyrants are far less predictible and harder to control.

  • Thedude

    Iraq is so far removed from Germany. They have absolutely no experience with democracy, the country is largely religious and filled to the brim with agressive young males. Germany was devestated, the male population was killed off. Who was going to fight back? Why did we choose Iraq to invade out of all those “evil doer” countries? We’re not leaving. Iraq is a beach head. The chaos serves our purpose.

  • http://writingup.com/ashok ashok

    Erik – thanks. I wasn’t meaning to be rude to you at all, and your points are well-taken. It’s just that I’ve been attacked in these threads before for no reason, and I’m hyper-sensitive now.

    The religion can work in our favor if we structure the incentives right. I want that religion divorced from the regionalism/tribalism and tied to the centralized gov’t. I have no doubt that will lessen its intensity, as the religion has to confront issues of day-to-day governing, and as Iraq is a nation that needs to be in dialogue with other countries (the isolation consolidated the revolution in Iran). And the Shia, of course, have to deal with the Kurds. They can’t impose their brand of sharia on Sunni Kurds.

    That is a gamble, but I think religion is a sure way of teaching self-governance (individuals are responsible for their own actions and can see clearly the importance of law, not some arbitrary magistrate) and keeping a community united. The trick is to get it away from all these tribal customs that don’t help a greater unity and have thousand year old prejudices at base.

    Your point about secularism is well-taken. I do think the religion has an added bonus here, though, as it is the religion of the majority. Shouldn’t the greatest possible number have their say in a democracy?

  • Tom Schaffner

    Hey Angelos, what do you mean by the term “‘your president’…”?

    Call me old fashioned, but Bush is “our” president, duely elected under law–whether you agree with his policy or not. Your use of quotes doesn’t disguise your true sentiments. Maybe “traitor” is a perfectly good word to describe you and your ilk afterall.

  • Puff

    > So how would you solve Iraq?

    Wait for the war to finish, seriously. The moro insurrection took 11 years to be beaten enough to put it in hibernation for 80 years (MILF is back though). The US army now has a playbook to go by, and senior SF NCO’s with whom I’ve traded beer for info think everything will be wrapped up security-wise in early 2008, or 6 years total. Given their pessimistic nature (and previous predictions that were proved overly conservative), combined with Totten’s reporting from the kurdish areas, I’d venture a guess that Christmas 2007 will be quiet in (all of) Iraq.

  • http://www.prwatch.org Sheldon Rampton

    At this point, asking “How would you solve Iraq?” is like asking, “How would you survive lung cancer?” Very few people survive lung cancer, regardless of their treatment regimen, and the odds of “solving Iraq” at this stage are also small.

    Jeff Jarvis writes, “And, no, ‘getting the hell out of there’ is not an acceptable answer, dooming the Iraqis to the civil war many have already declared, and to worsening bloodshed and anarchy. From a humanitarian – that is, a liberal – perspective, we cannot abandon these people to such terror.”

    This, of course, presupposes that the U.S. presence in Iraq is actually protecting Iraqis from civil war, bloodshed and anarchy. I see no reason to believe that this is the case. The U.S. invasion of Iraq is what caused civil war, bloodshed and anarchy — conditions that did not exist even under Saddam Hussein’s brutal tyranny. More recently, I also see no evidence to suggest that the presence of U.S. troops helped in any way to quell the violence that followed the bombing of the Al Askari Mosque in Samarra.

    What I find most striking about this post and the responses thus far is that no one has offered a solution that has a remote chance of actually solving anything. If someone has a solution that actually “solves” Iraq, then by all means the U.S. has a responsibility to implement it, even at the cost of more American lives. But if a solution doesn’t exist, the best thing to do is just get out. Staying in under those conditions merely adds to the death toll and delays the moment when everyone has to admit that the war in Iraq has failed. How many more lives are we prepared to lose in defense of our illusions?

  • http://writingup.com/ashok ashok

    Sheldon’s right about one thing: whatever brings us from a state in which violence and despair reign to one in which good gov’t exists and people can be free to live well and talk – whatever that is, it is miraculous.

    And I will be even prouder to be an American when our troops and our gov’t make that which is seemingly impossible reality, and the people of Iraq are safe and enjoying their political liberty to its fullest extent.

  • http://- Cosmin Radoi

    I’m scared when I read some of the posts here.

    The iraq war is not for the breaking of human rights, mass distructions weapons or anything like this. It’s for oil, as Robert Feinman stated above.

    I’m even more scared when I think about the fact Bush has been reelected by the people.
    I really hope that it has been mistake of the election system and not the opinion of the majority of americans.
    If the election was fair, God protect us from the power that has been given to a such stupid people – I’m not including here the americans that understand what is happening, many beeing now on the streets demanding a stop to the war.

  • http://writingup.com/ashok ashok

    Chris Hitchens in this article does not refute the “it’s all about oil” argument directly, but he takes on a lot of the conspiracy theory and how much is needed to make it hang together.

  • Dale

    To create a stable Iraq, we need to focus on four items:
    1. Physical safety of Iraq citizens
    2. Infrastructure to provide electricity, food, water, and transportation 24 hours a day.
    3. The rule of law
    4. The growth of commerce

    I can almost add a fifth item, and possibly should, clean up after ourselves. If we destroy a building, clean out the rubble. If our tanks crush curbs, re-build them. If we blast our way thru walls to capture the bad guys, mend the fences. The carnage we create should not stand as a testament to our ability to destroy when the war has been over for three years.
    Let us build more respect by rebuilding what we destroy.

    The milk has been spilt. Time to clean it up.

  • Tom Bona

    this war is all about oil. the people are too stupid to understand. why don’t they get it. now bush is funding NASA for missions to Mars rather than feeding his own people. No war for Oil! No mineral rights on the moon or Mars for Halliburton!

  • http://www.tyndallreport.com Andrew Tyndall

    The odd thing about the debate over Iraq is that everyone agrees what the eventual outcome will be: US troops will end their military occupation (the one proviso to this, as Robert Feinman reminds us, is Rep John Murtha’s plan for permament regional bases, about whose wisdom there is no settled national conviction).

    The bases apart, we are in a Hall of Mirrors: bringing troops home is simultaneously the sign of victory (“We have allowed Iraq to stand up so we can stand down”) and the sign of defeat (“Cut and run”).

    Everyone agrees that, even after the end of US military occupation, there will continue to be some violence and insecurity. So how can we tell the difference between victory and defeat? An answer that calls it victory if the level of violence is acceptable and defeat if it is unacceptable is devoid of meaning. Is the current level of violence acceptable or unacceptable?

    BuzzMachine flatly states that bring troops home right now — whether that might mean declaring victory or defeat, whichever you prefer — would doom Iraqis “to the civil war many have already declared, and to worsening bloodshed and anarchy.” That prediction may or not be right, but an assertion is not an argument and saying it does not make it so. Sheldon Rampton hits the nail on the head when he points out that BuzzMachine “presupposes that the US presence in Iraq is actually protecting Iraqis from civil war, bloodshed and anarchy.”

    And anyway, Jeff, even though you personally would support the US military trying to separate the sides if a fully-fledged civil war were to break out, do you seriously believe either that our troops would be able pull that off or that American public opinion would support such a massive and bloody military commitment?

    Onward and upward!

  • Wally

    The answer is REGIME CHANGE in the US. We should be able to accomplish it in the fall 2006 election.

  • Erik

    You want an actual solution?

    Announce that you are dividing the country into 3 soverign nations on a specific future date (say 1/1/07).

    Let people internally emigrate until that date.

    Equally arm each of the nations. Everybody gets 250 tanks, everybody gets 100 attack helicopters and so on.

    Tell the Turks to stay the hell out.

    Leave.

    The problems stem from the Brits redrawing the Ottoman empire borders after WW1, that’s what you need to undo.

  • http://www.tyndallreport.com Andrew Tyndall

    erik — “let people internally emigrate” is just a fancy term for ethnic cleansing, the very thing BuzzMachine is trying to prevent — andrew

  • Erik

    No actually it’s undoing the forced emigration of Saddam.

  • Erik

    Iraq is a legal fiction.

    It’s just like Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia.

    If it is truly free, it will break up. We can encourage a break up like Czechoslovakia or we can encorage a break up like Yugoslavia.

    But more likely we will just install a new tyrant.

  • Tom Bona

    Erik you are so right. as with everything with this criminal regime – it is a pretense to hide criminal activity. I mean after all what can you expect from a family that profited from the Nazi war machine in the 20th century! Can you say sudtenland or danzig! it is time to re-install the just ruler of Iraq. I am tired of all these pnac zionist neo-cons blathering on about the kurds and what not. after all what was he to do? they snuck up on him.

  • http://www.poewar.com John Hewitt

    The US is trapped at this point. As occupiers, we cannot afford to stay long enough to secure true peace. The war is savaging our economy and making it impossible to solve internal issues. We cannot engage in a civil war without choosing one side over the other, which will create permanent enemies for us throughout the region and further muddy our stated reasons for going in.

    There is no solution in which the US will come out looking good, and no solution that will not sacrifice many Iraqis. More involvement is almost impossible and less involvement will make it look like we are retreating. To argue that we can’t pull out is to argue that our staying can improve the situation, and at this point that seems unlikely without a dramatic increase in troop levels.

    So, to state the obvious, we will continue doing exactly what we are doing. We will keep taking punishment until it is economically or politically impossible to stay and then we will declare our job done and pull out, no matter what the current state of Iraq might be. This will probably happen after the next presidential election, if we can hold out that long.

    I propose this solution only because it is what will happen, no matter what this blog’s readers suggest.

  • Erik

    “as with everything with this criminal regime – it is a pretense to hide criminal activity.”

    No it’s not. It’s incompetence, ego and arrogance.

    They’re fools, not villians.

  • http://www.prwatch.org Sheldon Rampton

    Eric writes: “They’re fools, not villains.”

    Does it make a difference which they are? I’m reminded of Talleyrand’s remark to Napoleon: “Sire, worse than a crime, you have committed an error.” But from the point of view of the people who suffer the consequences, the result is the same.

    The purpose of the discussion here, though, should be to focus on Jeff Jarvis’s query about how to “solve” Iraq. My own opinion is pretty much in line with John Hewitt. It’s possible to imagine a hypothetical solution that would spare Iraq a full-blown civil war, but it would require at least two things:

    (1) a substantial increase in U.S. commitments of both troops and material resources, to impose stability and to actually do the job of reconstruction that has thus far languished; and

    (2) enough humility on the part of the U.S. administration to admit its mistakes, treat Iraqis like people instead of turf to be conquered, and seek help from the international community (including Arab nations).

    I think it is politically unrealistic to expect either of these things to happen. The American people are already impatient to see troops pulled out of Iraq, and they won’t support additional deployments. As for showing humility on Iraq, not only would this be out of character for the Bush administration, it would undermine the support that he is still receiving from his right-wing base.

    The question then becomes, not how do we “solve” Iraq, but how do we minimize the bloodshed that will ensue when the U.S. decides to declare victory and leave?

  • Dale

    I am not as educated as the rest of you. Please explain why a political solution is the answer to the people’s plight. Do you believe the only problem in Iraq is who will rule it? Stuff and nonsense.

  • Erik

    “The purpose of the discussion here, though, should be to focus on Jeff Jarvis’s query about how to “solve” Iraq. My own opinion is pretty much in line with John Hewitt. It’s possible to imagine a hypothetical solution that would spare Iraq a full-blown civil war, but it would require at least two things:

    (1) a substantial increase in U.S. commitments of both troops and material resources, to impose stability and to actually do the job of reconstruction that has thus far languished; and

    (2) enough humility on the part of the U.S. administration to admit its mistakes, treat Iraqis like people instead of turf to be conquered, and seek help from the international community (including Arab nations).'”

    Sheldon,

    You mean a plan like this?

    http://securingamerica.com/issues/iraqplan

  • Tom Bona

    we will not be able to regain our status as member of the world community until the bush et al are tried for war crimes at the Hague and Saddam is returned as soveriegn leader of the iraqi people. who are we to pass judgement on how a culture polices it’s people? we have spent the last 250 years destroying cultures – maybe its time for a new way. time for the west to be the slaves and the slaves to be the masters.

  • http://www.wipoll.com Al
  • http://www.wipoll.com Al
  • http://www.wipoll.com Al
  • Tom Bona

    The democratically elected President Saddam Hussein must be re-established as president. The criminal bush, cheney, rumsfeld must be immediately handed over the the re-established Iraqi Republic for trial.

  • Eileen

    Tom Bona, Al and your ilk (look it up),

    Please go back to your jihadi caves.

    We ain’t buyin’ it.

    Islamofascists should take their last breaths, look at the blue, blue sky one more time before self-detonating in the desert where no one else is around to see or even hear you explode. And really, do you expect to find a bunch of virgins waiting for you? Ahahahahahahahaha. You poor, poor little boys.

    Do you jihadi types know that U.S. CentCom monitors this site (and your emails)? You probably don’t know what that is, either. Look it up, little impotent boys.

    BTW, if you think you’d like to come after me, jihadis, I have pet alligators…and they are mighty protective.

    /cue CentCom

  • Eileen

    Jeff,

    And you’re worried about Stern, the FCC and Kat comments?

    Truly now…

  • Tom Bona

    I am not a jihadi – i am a whitebread american. the difference is that i do recognize when things are unfair. given our history of violence and genocide it is time that we pay our debt to world society. Of course Centcom monitors this board – they also monitor Captain Janks when he makes phony phone calls for Howard. What you don’t know is that the criminal Cheney has built and personally runs a massive domestic spying system based at the NORAD facility out in Wyoming.

  • Eileen

    Tom Bona,

    BULLSHIT to you forever and always!

    Get f***ed.

  • Tom Bona

    typical response of someone in the thrall of the PNAC Neo-Con Zionist War Mongers. Cindy Sheehan for president.

  • Eileen

    Ah, so you’re ALSO a NAZI Islamofascist-thug. No surprise whatsoever. Following after your leader Amin AlHusseini: http://www.tellthechildrenthetruth.com/AminAlHusseini.htm

    True to form, jihadi boy. That appelation is way to kind for those of your ilk. It is more that you are impotent, in every way shape and form. In ideology, religion, politics and basic morality.

    SPIT. I SPIT upon you….and I sic my alligators upon you.

    No surprise whatsoever, sicko.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Eileen:
    Listen to yourself. This is what bring the discussion down. You may have arguments. You may be on the right side. And I agree with the substance hiding in your little rants regarding what Tom says. But right now, you sound like a third grader on the playground. Please raise the level of discourse or leave. And I will gladly say the same to Kat. This is not a forum — a bar where you can spout off on Saturday night and no one knows who you are or what you said the next morning. This is my house online. Respect that, please.

  • Todd Lokken

    Maybe actually have a plan….

  • Todd Lokken

    Oh…and jeff….good retort.

  • Eileen

    Jeff.

    I do respect your house. I don’t respect some of the jihadi types who frequent here and spout their taqiyya. If their comments are left without retort, how does that reflect upon your blog? Should the enemy be allowed to use and abuse your house by injecting their venom here? The number one tool utilized by the enemy is the internet. I surmise both Kat and myself would be less inclined to engage if you were the one to slap down these types. And don’t forget that both Kat and I have been threatened here.

    I was truly pissed after reading comment after comment by Bona and crew. To you I apologize. To Bona and his pals I do not.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Eileen: You, Kat and others do a fine job “slapping down” those. I’m not arguing with you there. I’m asking that you — as my father advised me — rise above the fray and always try to stand on higher ground.

  • RonP

    btw – Did anyone notice that Tom Bona seems to be an anagram for moonbat? I think he or she might be pulling your leg.

  • Eileen

    Yah, Ron P., pulling ‘our’ leg in more ways than one.

    Jeff,

    Your Dad’s advice is sound. I believe I can speak for Kat as well in saying that we certainly do ‘try’. But sometimes, man… Sigh. Actually, I’ve often considered that Kat and I, as well as ‘others’ as you say, do a pretty good job of Defending your house against enemy attacks, even at the expense of our own necks. That is a testament to our respect for you and the powerful voice of your blog. Otherwise, why would we even bother? For all of our political differences, you ‘get it’ re the WOT. Would that there were more liberals like you.. With more internal support, we’d be much further down this Godawful road.

    May we continue to fight jihadis in Iraq, on the internet, and every single place on the planet where Islamofascists swarm and raise their ugly heads.

    Onward, *always* with a view for the higher road. As the Irish say, “May it forever rise to greet us.”

  • http://www.tyndallreport.com Andrew Tyndall

    RonP —

    I must I took Tom Bona’s tone to be satirical too. I was struck by the sentiment — “I am tired of all these pnac zionist neo-cons blathering on about the kurds and what not. after all what was he to do? they snuck up on him” — which is surely tongue in cheek.

    But that is one of the problems one often encounters with this medium, it is very bad at tone of voice…facetious, intemperate, ironic all seem opaque in a comments thread.

    And no offense meant to Eileen, who took offense instead of satire (unless of course her alligator castration threats were also an attempt at humor).

  • http://blog.tomevslin.com Tom Evslin

    Sorry for the late response; this one needed some thought.

    Think we need a credible plan B – leave Iraq as three countries – both to increase pressure on the Shiites to make the compromises necessary to make plan A work and to give us an alternate in case Iraq as a one-country mashup is ultimately unstable unless bound by tyranny.

    More details on my blog.

  • larry juhl

    Its all about OIL, The United States and Iraq Army should take complete control of oil, any of the fighting factions must join and cease hositilities if they want any oil, the oil will be distrubuted evenly to all Iraqies who join.
    The US should withdraw from all areas in Iraq, And only defend the Oil.

  • http://home.cogeco.ca/~sbaxter1/How20to20Solve20Iraq.jpg Steve Baxter

    Irrelivent of how we got into this mess we are there and need to find a stable soulution to the regional and ethnic conflicts that exist. I propose splitting up the country and giving sections of it to neighbouring states. Dividing it so that our allies in the region receive a greater share while accepting the ethnic divisions and joining them with people of simmilar beliefs. It also allows the Kurds to be givin their own self governing country. Please see the website link for a map a possilbe way of dividing the country.

    http://home.cogeco.ca/~sbaxter1/How%20to%20Solve%20Iraq.jpg

  • Peter

    Walk the USA out of Iraq and then hang GWBush as a traitor to humanity and the US of A
    Build the new inflatable then made hard houses and save not just Iraq but the world with the perfect configuration to end crime and abuse and even neglect… the prophecies are true..i am among you about to yell “HERE I AM”