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November 28, 2004

Comments

>Earlier I posted a link to Tom Hayden's prescription for ending
>the Iraq war.

While I opposed the Iraq War and was appalled to hear that the
government lied to the US public about the reasons for the
invasion, I'm not sure that now is the time for the US military
to exit. Even granting all the damage that's been done, that
doesn't mean that the situation wouldn't deteriorate more or
faster if the US immediately pulled out. The right time to exit
is when the majority of the population wants the US gone (or when
peace breaks out, of course). Does the majority of the
population want the US out? I would say no because Grand
Ayatollah Ali Sistani has not yet called for the US to leave.
While Sistani is not an elected representative, he would seem to
be the most legitimate candidate for "voice of the people." Do
you think Sistani is illegitimate or acting in his own personal
interest? Or simply wrong? I don't have the impression that the
Kurds want the US out either.

From what I understand, Sistani only represents a certain number of people. You raise some good points, and I do find the argument compelling that our departure would spark civil war. But on the other hand, by staying we are causing great suffering. I find the Lancet estimate of 100,000 Iraqi casualties compelling.

MOstly I am swayed by Riverbend, an Iraqi woman blogger of great eloquence, educated in the West, a computer professional I believe, who is the sort of person who would most be expected to support American style reforms. She wants us to leave. Abu-Ghraib, Fallujah. Just go, she says. Just go.

I don't pretend to know the best solution. My emotional reaction is that the US military is causing more harm than good. My emotional reactions don't always make for good policy!

I don't pretend to know the answer either. I do fear that our feelings of revulsion about the initial invasion will cloud our judge about the best course of action. I do think Americans should take a "we broke it, we fix it" attitude of responsibility towards both Iraq and Afghanistan. I don't think this responsibility means neglecting upkeep at home -- that neglect is a result of many choices that are being made, not just the Iraq War.

At least we can hope that the January election will produce a strong leadership which does speak for most Iraqis. If the elections produce a corrupt, weak leadership (remember Thieu?) then I fear that our Iraq policy will be a protracted, destructive muddle.

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