What should we do in Iraq?

General Petraeus told Congress today that he wants to keep the surge troops in Iraq. Seems to indicate that the surge hasn’t really worked, at least insofar as it hasn’t made things better, only stablilzed them to a point.

So what should we do?

Turn back time and wait for Saddam to die of natural causes. It’s working in Cuba, man!

Gradual pullout. Chaos is inevitable but an immediate pullout would be very messy. Our stubborn desire to “pull out a win” doesn’t mean that’s actually possible. In the meanwhile we’re just further damaging what little credibility we have, letting soldier’s and citizens die and we have no path to any sort of long-term gains in the region.

1 - kill everyone
2 - leave

On second thought, skip 1 and go directly to 2. Iraq will sort itself out if the US is not fucking around with everything.

This, however, will not happen, no matter who is elected President.

We broke it, we have a responsibility to at least leave the country viable. I would support an international peacekeeping force, but I really don’t see any nations willing to shoulder the burden (we can’t get it working in Afghanistan with NATO for chrissakes).

As much as I would like to support an immediate withdrawal, I think it’s morally wrong to leave the Iraqi people without a working government. It may lead to even more suicide bombings, insurgencies and Balkanization.

It ain’t gonna change any minds to explain it, but I voted for stick around.

Go to the world, admit the stupid mistake and idiotic policies of the bozos currently in office, and genuinely ask for help in nation-building to prevent the problem from spreading.

Genuine request or not, I really don’t see other nations wanting to stick their neck in the noose. It’s like pulling teeth to get NATO cough up a few hundred more for Afghanistan, which seems a lot more legitimate. Expecting the “world” to replace tens of thousands of US soldiers in Iraq is magical thinking.

Other Western countries might provide more funds for reconstruction, but given how much the world has under-delivered on funding pledges in Afghanistan I wouldn’t count on much. Besides, the problem isn’t so much money as stability.

Is it possible to achieve a reasonable balance of power among the Iraqi factions that doesn’t involve the US? Are the Shia really that eager to eradicate the Sunni?

Announce a pullout, if a force comprised of Arab League troops paid for by the GCC, replaces them. DOJ institutes a criminal probe of the Neocons and the shenanigans that got us in this mess. Rescind Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, for the duration of the probe. Better yet have someone at DOJ write a secret memo to that effect…hey, they did it to us.

If it was me, I’d try to get a gulf coalition to do it. I don’t know if they would, but it is in Saudi Arabia and a few other countries interest that Iraq not blow up, especially if it benefits Iran in any way.

My natural inclination is to stay because we are responsible for the mess, but I also realize that we’ve been there too long and are now considered to be an occupation force. I never thought we’d be there this long, if only because I underestimated the degree to which some people in the Bush administration still bought into the idea that our reputation was such that no one would think we were there for any reason other than to help. I’ve long since realized that the US no longer is viewed so positively worldwide. Nothing we can do will change that now.

I’d like to think that if we left, a certain percentage of the “bad guys” would be happy and go home. Then it becomes a more typical faction struggle that maybe the UN or some other coalition (not NATO) could deal with, with us providing financial and training aid, but not with troops on the ground.

Yeah, except a country isn’t a vase at Pottery Barn.

We’ve been there for 5 years, we’ve spilled our blood and spent our dollars. We rebuilt the oil fields, we’ve trained their police forces and military.

They now have the means to establish order, and they have an economic basis for keeping their government afloat. At this point, it’s sink or swim time for the Iraqis - we’ve done our part, and if they don’t have the sense of self-preservation or political will to keep their knives away from one another’s throats, that’s their problem, not ours.

There’s certainly something to be said for that perspective, but I still think we can’t just play pontius pilate and attempt to blame others so we don’t have feel responsible for what happens.

We broke Iraq and we need to fix it. Ideally what I think we ought to do is scale down our overly idealistic notions of how we can fix it. If the place is too fractured and uncivilized to make a democracy work then lets put another petty warlord in place. Hey, at least we would be returning it to it the condition we found it in.

Practically I can’t see Americans ever swallowing that idea so pragmatically I’m in favor of withdrawl. But let’s call it what it is, a withdrawl in shame because we invaded someone for little reason, caused a lot of strife, and now can’t muster the will to fix it.

The problem, at this point, is that you have a nation that’s really three separate nations, all of which hate the other, and only one of them has all the natural resources that are the only source of income for the place. Short of genocide, which would establish a clear reason for the entire world to intervene, everyone knows that intervening in a civil war is a recipe for disaster, so only the neighboring nations are going to want even the slightest bit to do with it. Of those, apparently no one wants to get involved except Iran.

Therefore, the wisest course is to suck up to Iran, let them have the country, and leave. Now there’s a suicidal thing to say in United States politics. Maybe in a few years though…

What makes you think we’re capable of fixing it?

I’ve advocated a break-up of Iraq into two or three parts as a solution as far back as I can recall having an opinion. Part of the ideal solution would be to request international advocacy in promoting a treaty to formalize this. Obviously, Turkey is one key opponent of such a plan (due to the Kurdish “issue”); but they also want to be part of the EU and only pressure from other European natoins will help mediate this.

This is why we need international consensus in solving the Iraq quagmire. My previous post was admittedly unclear (I’m spending all my time on the vampire game), but I didn’t mean to imply we just need more bodies in there and let American soldiers come home.

Split the country up.

If only it was that simple.

Southern Iraq is shiite and has a lot of the oil, meaning it either becomes a puppet of Iran or joins it outright. Very few folks want a stronger Iran.

Northern Iraq is kurdish, a group that claims ethnic brothers in Iran and Turkey, as well as to the north. The Turks don’t even recognize the Kurds in Turkey as a legitimate ethnic group and recently crossed the border going after Kurdish rebels that are already causing problems.

Central Iraq is a mix of sunni and shiites. Think Iran is going to sit back and let the sunni’s dominate?

GTFO. I really don’t think we can just load up the boys and dust off, but a phased withdrawal needs to be as rapid as feasible. Set a point, no more than one month in the future (Friedman units are no longer viable for pacing), at which we start a withdrawal that will complete within another month. Appeal to the UN, regional powers, NATO, and any other interested parties to help with the situation. Make it clear that while we are committed to solving this problem that we created, we also acknowledge that our military is not the tool best suited to the task.

Allow civilians complicit in war crimes (from the trenches to the boardrooms) to be extradited to the World Court. Reiterate the US policy of not extraditing government officials, but also state that we no longer object to nabbing former heads of state should they spend time in a nation willing to do so.

So you want to put Sunni troops in a majority Shiite country, offload the cost onto a group of nations that opposed the war, and then radically alter the state of the US Gov’t “for the duration”.

Is this a joke that I’m totally not getting, or are you crazy?

As a rebuttal: Turkey, Economic Consequences of the War, bad precedent.

I hadn’t heard of Friedman units. Clever. I found the timeline of Friedman unit quotes to be both illuminating and sad. Illuminating to the extent that it clearly shows how much and how consistently we’ve deluded ourselves as to the prospects of “staying the course” and sad for, well, rather obvious reasons.

We can’t keep saying that we need to stay there to prevent this or that catastrophe or to “fix” the mess we made. Catastrophes are already happening and will happen when we leave, no matter when that is, and there is no “fix”. We’re just continuing to throw money and lives at a problem without even the slightest clue as to how that problem can conceivably resolve itself.

As bad choices go, yes that’s exactly what I’d like to do. I’m not certain any other large peacekeeping force is going to be more a bunch of infidels. The Gulf states have a vested interest in keeping the region somewhat stable and a hedge against the regional power (Iran). and I’d love for the muthafvckers who put us in this situtation to pay a real price for their transgressions. If that means taking away presidential pardons for a year or two, what the hey, a small price for it to never happen again.