Friday, April 06, 2007

Overton Window on Iraq Endgame

The Overton window has moved, according to most bloggers and pundits, in regards to what is politically acceptable on the endgame with our military entanglement in Iraq.

However, we still seem stuck.

The range of thinking on Iraq still seems to span the range from policy -> sensible -> radical. I introduce the new unthinkable/impossible.

1) Permanent bases in Iraq (still policy, unpopular to the point of loud denials that this is still policy), without a partition, and U.S. led multinational forces dominating the Iraqi environment, and an Iraqi Constitution and Hydrocarbon law largely dictated by foreign business interests. Iraq will become a client state of the U.S., and buy lots of military hardware to defend itself from Iran, but never to threaten Isreal, Kuwait or Saudi. al-Qaeda and similar anti-Western militants are denied a freehold for their terrorist training camps, but if they want to collaborate against Iran, they are okay with us, and will recieve funding, overtly, covertly, or through non-governmental channels sympathetic to the Bush Administration.

2) Partitioning (sensible?). No one is speaking to this right now, in the wake of the Iraq War Emergency Supplemental. Partitioning, and aligning ourselves with the Kurds is the policy voiced by Al Franken in our our last exchange at Drinking Liberally. Supporting a defacto partitioning scheme gets weird with some of the proposed restrictions in the Murtha/Pelosi emergency supplemental, and maybe in Reid-Feingold. The Kurds are really only threatened by a strong central government in Iraq that would be re-equipped with standoff weapons like fighter-bombers and artillery, helicopters and maybe mechanized infantry/armor. The Kurds are potentially threatened in the future by Iran and Turkey, moreso if they are used as pawns by Bush or Bush-like administrations in the future, who seek to destabilize Turkey or Iran. creating a Kurdish state, and undermining Turkey have been declared as goals at various times by some Republicans that like Alexander Haig and Paul Wolfowitz (who otherwise appear to hate each other), as I mentioned in this post about Kurdistan, CSPAN, etc.. For a price ($$$ tens of millions of USD), I am willing to support this position, but only if it leads to de-escalation in the region. The Kurds were essentially autonomous before the war, and I think they can be again, if we have to disengage from the rest of Iraq, putting that part back in the box of a weapons embargo (that would diminish the bloodshed in the predicted violence that would follow our withdrawal, but it happens today anyway, despite our presence, and maybe with the help of commincations, logistics, and arms that we supply to Iraqi police and military units that end up as partisans in the communal violence).

Participating in partitioning puts our forces at risk in policing the new frontier between a civilized Kurdistan and the No Man's Land that would become Baghdad, al-Anbar, and the Southern and Western borders of Iraq. It also provides an easy target for Middle East-based non-state actors of every stripe who seek to target U.S. forces that could be portrayed as continuing to occupy Muslim territory.

The greatest risk would be policing the other, external borders if Kurdish groups (with or without the support of the United States) continue to wage war against Syrian, Turkish and Iranian governments.

Partitioning would require a diplomatic initiative on a very large scale, as outlined in the Iraq Study Group, and concessions (in trade and security arrangements, if not also territory) from Iran, Syria, Turkey and the central Iraqi government, to the extent that we are attached to the fiction of Iraqi sovereignty.

3) Withdrawal at an arbitrary date, a date certain, about a year from now. (popular, acceptable to Democrats)

4) Withdrawal from Iraq, beginning today. (popular, somewhat radical, yet probably most sensible)

The way to move the Overton window is to fully flesh out options 3 and 4, in lots of blog posts and conversations, and to propose something radical and unthinkable.

5) We go back in time and withdraw from Iraq some time, a date certain, in the past. Of course, we can't exactly do that, but we do have to critically examine the ideas and declared goals that got us into Iraq, and become unattached to them. That is Step One in reducing the impact of past decisions on present reality. Step Two gets weirder...

Anyway, I propose that we withdraw from Iraq sometime after the capture of Saddam Hussein, and before the Seige of Fallujah and the Blackwater incident that caused it, maybe about the time the Interim Constitution was approved. Do you have a better idea?

What misconceptions do you have to disabuse yourself of in order to let go of your neo-colonial aspirations in Babylon? What hopes and prayers do you have for Iraq that you insist are more important than the hopes and prayers for Iraq held by the Iraqis themselves?

If it is freedom and democracy, we need a little more of that hope and dream realized for ourselves, within our borders, much more desperately, than we need to impose it by profitable enforcement at taxpayer's expense upon a captive population from an alien culture. Maybe. Whatever that Iraqi dream we had was, it is terribly out of alignment with the reality that we can hope to inhabit together.

Letting go of bad ideas from the past is the fastest way to change the present and the future. Do some personal time travel and revisit those moments of hope or doubt or fear that enabled you to create the war then, to support it to the extent you have supported it, and release the power those fears and hopes and goals still have on you. And we can stop the war, if not some time in the past, then right now.

It ends right now, if we want it to.

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