Monday, August 22, 2005


Juan Cole has a plan for getting out of Iraq without causing a civil war which would inevitably go regional taking up to as much as 20% of the oil off the market.

1) US ground troops should be withdrawn ASAP from urban areas as a first step.
2) In the second phase of withdrawal, most US ground troops would steadily be brought out of Iraq

3) For as long as the elected Iraqi government wanted it, the US would offer the new Iraqi military and security forces close air support in any firefight they have with guerrilla or other rebellious forces.

4) With the agreement of the elected Iraqi government, the US would prevent any guerrilla force from fielding any large number of fighters for set piece battles

5) In addition to the service of its air forces, the US would offer targeted military aid to ensure the stability of the Iraqi government (pipelines, assasinations, tanks, etc)

6) The US should demand as a quid pro quo for further help that elections in Iraq henceforward be held on a district basis so as to ensure proper representation in parliament for the Sunni Arab provinces

7) The US should demand as a quid pro quo for further help that the Iraqi government announce an amnesty for all former Baath Party members who cannot be proven to have committed serious crimes, including crimes against humanity

8) Congress must rewrite the laws governing US reconstruction aid to Iraq so as to take out provisions that Iraqis must where possible use US companies or materiel. All of the reconstruction money should go directly to Iraqi firms, so as to help jump-start the economy.

9) The US should join the regular meetings of the foreign ministers of Iraq's neighbors, with Condi Rice in attendance, along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, employing a 6 + 2 diplomatic track to help put Iraq back on its feet through diplomacy and multilateral aid. This step will require that the Bush administration cease threatening regularly to bomb Tehran or to overthrow the governments of Syria and Iran. For the sake of getting out of Iraq without a world-class economic disaster, the US will just have to deal with the real world, which contains Iran and Syria. The US is now a Middle Eastern Power, not just a New World one, and as such it needs to use Iraq's neighbors to calm their clients within Iraq. This goal cannot be achieved through simple intimidation, more especially since, with half of all fighting units bogged down in Iraq, the US is in no position to follow through on its threats and everyone knows it.

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