Tuesday, October 11, 2005

**UPDATE**: Altering U.S. Strategy in Iraq

In my post, "A Conservative Argument for Leaving Iraq", I primarily addressed U.S. military/security strategy in Iraq. Something I have not yet addressed though is the political strategy.

The fact is that bringing the Sunnis into the political circle is the only long-term solution to a secure and stable Iraq. The problem is that the U.S. currently has very limited options for affecting the decisions made by the Iraqi government, which has been ineffective under Prime Minister Jafari. The Prime Minister has in fact done more since being in office to alienate the Sunnis than he has to include them - for example, by ramming the Iraqi Constitution through Iraq's parlaiment against overwhelming Sunni disaproval, making a hasty security and economic arrangement with Iran soon after being elected, and scheduling Saddam's trial for two days after a Constitutional referendum that the Sunnis will vote NO at - and his actions have led directly to continued attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces in Iraq.

So what can the U.S. do to improve the political situation in Iraq without inducing the ever-more vomit-inducing and hypocritical whaling of the "international community" and the far-left about "imposing Western values on Iraq"? (Since when did universal human rights stop being universal; since when were they only applicable to Western humans? Does this mean the left no longer believes in the U.N.?)

We should "Use Our Leverage: Troops", says Senator Carl Levin, and he's got a damn good point. Senator Levin is in fact right on target when he says that Iraqi leaders do not want U.S. forces to withdrawl completely and he proposes a smart strategy for using that as leverage to coax the power-hungry Shi'ites and Kurds into a more accomodating and unifying political solution.

None of the Iraqi groups wants U.S. troops to leave precipitately. The Shiites want us to stay until Iraqi security forces are strong enough to deal with the insurgency on their own. The Kurds want us to remain for the impending future. And the Sunni Arab leaders want us to stay as a deterrent to those who might seek revenge against them for the actions of Saddam Hussein.

We must use that leverage -- the possibility of an American withdrawal -- to achieve the broad-based political settlement that is essential for defeating the insurgency.

I believe that if the Iraqis fail to reach a political solution by the end of the year we must consider a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces.
This does not mean setting a date now for departure. It simply means conveying clearly and forcefully to Iraqis that the presence of our forces is not indefinite and that our staying there requires them to come together politically, since Iraqi unity offers the only hope of defeating the insurgency. (Washington Post)


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