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Iraq - Exit Strategy

by Alan Simpson

The US and UK military has fought and won the war to topple Saddam Hussein, if that is the reason we invaded Iraq.

The US and UK military have destroyed the oppressive forces who enslaved the people of Iraq, and inflicted untold hardship through torture and murder.

The US and UK military have taken casualties in defending the citizens of Iraq from insurgents bent on destroying their new found freedoms.

The US politicians have decided they were misinformed that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction, even though they made up the intelligence themselves to justify the invasion.

The world is hating the US for lying, then invading Iraq to grab the oil. Unlike the US public they have been told that it was Bush 1, Cheney and Rumsfeld who supplied Iraq with the tools to gas the Kurds, stood by watching, and equipped Saddam with the tools to attack his neighbors.

We see startling similarities with Vietnam, where lies and deceit let to the death and destruction of thousands of innocent men and women caught up in the great lie that forever altered US diplomacy.

Here too the US public was fed an endless porridge of glowing accounts, patriotic sound bites and quantities of misinformation to hide the real situation on the ground.

Even when the key players admitted the deception, there were never trials of the guilty for murdering their own, and misleading the public trust. But unlike today's war it took them twenty five years to admit to the lie.

Today Iraq is nowhere near as bad as Vietnam towards the end, but already politicians are moving towards a puppet government under the control of US "advisors" and the US Ambassador.

I would like to pause for a minute and use the words of Walter Cronkite:

February 27th, 1968:

"We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds.

They may be right, that Hanoi's winter-spring offensive has been forced by the Communist realization that they could not win the longer war of attrition, and that the Communists hope that any success in the offensive will improve their position for eventual negotiations. It would improve their position, and it would also require our realization, that we should have had all along, that any negotiations must be that -- negotiations, not the dictation of peace terms. For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate.

This summer's almost certain standoff will either end in real give-and-take negotiations or terrible escalation; and for every means we have to escalate, the enemy can match us, and that applies to invasion of the North, the use of nuclear weapons, or the mere commitment of one hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred thousand more American troops to the battle. And with each escalation, the world comes closer to the brink of cosmic disaster.

To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy's intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations.

But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.

This is Walter Cronkite. Good night."

We can still develop an honorable exit strategy for Iraq, and with the main objective secured. Saddam Hussein is out of power.

Democracy is a jump too far for both Afghanistan and Iraq. If they want it, democracy will evolve in the years ahead. If they don't want it and we are still there they will kill many thousand more American and British soldiers till the politicians get the message.

Just as Walter Cronkite advised in 1968 we should begin negotiations, with a program of inclusion of the Arab World, as well as all the factions within Iraq. That includes Iran too! Don't bother with the United Nations for it is not the concern of the hundreds of time wasting gas bags from irrelevant African and Asian countries who can stall, but can't contribute.

Then when these delegates are arguing amongst themselves around the conference table train the Iraqi military and police to carry out their wishes. Cut down the US staff at that ideally located killing field known as the US Embassy compound and try not to repeat Saigon.

Of course if the focus on negotiations takes pressure off the military then the situation could all be resolved, as by the time the Arab world agrees on anything, the US and UK military would have cleaned up the country and have the Iraqi military in control.

This isn't some daydreaming liberal view of an ideal world, but whenever populations feel they have no say in their future, and occupying armies impose their will on them, there is no option but to fight and bomb. (Israel take note!)

Don't create another Yasser Arafat in Iraq, start a dialog between all parties and let them sort out their own plans for their future and let the troops come home.

And politicians, stop lying about the numbers. If there are only 25,000 or 40,000 trained police and army say so. But start all these warring factions talking with each other before they decide on a civil war, and our troops are caught in the crossfire.