Given what we now know (thanks to other leaked memos) about the Bush Administration rushing to war in Iraq to oust Saddam with no thought of post-war planning, and given the continuing deaths being reported, today's news about American and British plans for withdrawal meet with some skepticism on my part about the intentions of our fair leaders.
Leaked Memo: US & UK Plan Major Withdrawal From Iraq
A British newspaper has obtained a secret plan written by the British Defense Secretary that appears to outline plans for the allied forces to withdraw the majority of its troops from Iraq by early next year. The memo states, "Emerging US plans assume fourteen out of eighteen provinces could be handed over to Iraqi control by early 2006, allowing a reduction in [Allied troops] from 176,000 down to 66,000." The Washington Post reports the British memo is apparently the first time such a significant reduction has been outlined under a specific timetable. After the memo was leaked, British Defense Secretary John Reid tried to downplay its significance. He said, "No decisions on the future force posture of UK forces have been taken."
While this may sound like good news on the surface for those of us who have been arguing for the withdrawal of troops from BEFORE the war, other news of the day seems to scream for more caution and careful planning and preparation:
Four Dozen Die In Suicide Attacks in Iraq
At least 48 people died on Sunday in a series of suicide attacks. The deadliest incident occurred when a man strapped with explosives blew himself up at a military recruiting center killing 19 and injuring more than 40 people. Earlier today nine Iraqi soldiers were killed in a raid on a checkpoint in central Iraq.
Nine Iraqis Suffocate in Police Custody
The Iraqi government has begun investigating the deaths of nine Iraqi bricklayers who died in police custody. The bricklayers died from suffocation after being detained in a police van for 14 hours.
Ex-PM Allawi: Iraq Is Almost In A "Civil War"
Iraq's former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is warning that Iraq is on the verge of a civil war. In a recent interview with the Sunday Times of London he said "The problem is that the Americans have no vision and no clear policy on how to go about in Iraq. The policy should be of building national unity in Iraq. Without this we will most certainly slip into a civil war." He went on to say "We are practically in stage one of a civil war as we speak."
So we've bombed their infrastructure, evaporated jobs, killed their work-age men, and incited the radical Islamists to violence. Mission accomplished, and now we're out of there?
Those who argue that U.S. troops should NOT be withdrawn usually point to the need to train Iraqi soldiers to take over the "security" that U.S. troops supposedly provide, all evidence to the contrary. Personally, I think this approach is ludicrous. Why train Iraqis to become like their oppressors that are universally resented?
What I do argue for is having a plan AFTER our troops pull out for how to continue to offer education, infrastructure, and job training once the violence recedes in our absence. Something tells me our planning-deficient government is not burning the midnight oil to figure out how to provide these ongoing responsibilities. Isn't it the least we can do?
I'm not saying we go in there and force it down their throats, but when the Iraqi government has time to get itself on its feet and do some internal assessments, they should come to us with a plan for U.S. involvement -- with strictly defined operating boundaries that protect Iraqi sovereignty but still allow for the U.S. to assist on Iraqi terms in the rebuilding of what it destroyed for no reason other than Bush's personal vendetta against Saddam, who after all was not a nice man, but that's hardly the point. We don't just get to go around removing leaders unilaterally (coalition of the willing my ass), and we CERTAINLY don't get to do it and then pull out with no responsibility for the aftermath.
Let me be clear, I'm talking community building here, not military-building, nation-building, or false-security providing.
Surely America can do better than it's done in the past. Surely we can demand it.
Monday, July 11, 2005