Monday, December 12, 2005

An Exit Strategy For Iraq, Courtesy of JFK

What Would J.F.K. Have Done?
By Theodore C. Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
The New York Times

Sorensen and Schlesinger offer first-hand historical perspective and reveal parallels between the situation Kennedy faced in Vietnam and Bush now faces in Iraq. While Kennedy was never able to put his plan into effect due to his assassination, it makes as much sense for Iraq today as it did for Vietnam then. Unfortunately, Bush, who lacks the wisdom, the intelligence, the compassion and the experience of JFK, will probably never even consider it.

"What did we Americans not hear from President George W. Bush when he the U.S. Naval Academy about his strategy for victory in Iraq?

We did not hear that the war in Iraq, already one of the costliest in American history, is a running sore. We did not hear that it has taken more than 2,000 precious American lives and countless - because we do not count them - Iraqi civilian lives.

America can't take that kind of endless and remorseless drain for a vaguely defined military and political mission. If we leave early, the president said, catastrophe might follow. But what of the catastrophe that we are prolonging and worsening by our continued presence, including our continued, unforgivable mistreatment of detainees?

The president says we should support our troops by staying the course; but who is truly willing to support our troops by bringing them safely home?

The responsibility for devising an exit plan rests primarily not with the war's opponents, but with the president who hastily mounted an invasion without enough troops to secure Iraq's borders and arsenals, without enough armor to protect our forces, without enough allied support and without adequate plans for either a secure occupation or a timely exit.
As we listened to Bush's speech, our thoughts raced back four decades to another president, John F. Kennedy. In 1963, the last year of his life, we watched from front-row seats as Kennedy tried to figure out how best to extricate American military advisers and instructors from Vietnam....

...Eventually he began to understand that withdrawal was the viable option. From the spring of 1963 on, he began to articulate the elements of a three-part exit strategy, one that his assassination would prevent him from pursuing. The three components of Kennedy's exit strategy -- well-suited for Iraq after the passage of a new constitution and the coming election -- can be summarized as follows:

Make clear that we're going to get out. At a press conference on Nov. 14, 1963, the president did just that, stating, 'That is our object, to bring Americans home.'

Request an invitation to leave. Arrange for the host government to request the phased withdrawal of all American military personnel -- surely not a difficult step in Iraq, especially after the clan statement last month calling for foreign forces to leave. In a May 1963 press conference, Kennedy declared that if the South Vietnamese government suggested it, 'we would have some troops on their way home' the next day.

Bring the troops home gradually. Initiate a phased American withdrawal over an unannounced period, beginning immediately, while intensifying the training of local security personnel, bearing in mind that with our increased troop mobility and airlift capacity, American forces are available without being stationed in hazardous areas. In September 1963, Kennedy said of the South Vietnamese: 'In the final analysis, it is their war. They are the ones who have to win it or lose it.' A month later, he said, ''It would be our hope to lessen the number of Americans' in Vietnam by the end of the year.

President Kennedy had no guarantee that any of these three components would succeed. In the 'fog of war,' there are no guarantees; but an exit plan without guarantees is better than none at all.

If we leave Iraq at its own government's request, our withdrawal will be neither abandonment nor retreat. Law-abiding Iraqis may face more clan violence, Balkanization and foreign incursions if we leave; but they may face more clan violence, Balkanization and foreign incursions if we stay. The president has said we will not leave Iraq to the terrorists. Let us leave Iraq to the Iraqis, who have survived centuries of civil war, tyranny and attempted foreign domination.

Once American troops are out of Iraq, people around the world will rejoice that we have recovered our senses. What's more, the killing of Americans and the global loss of American credibility will diminish. As Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a Republican and Vietnam veteran, said, 'The longer we stay, the more problems we're going to have.' Defeatist? The real defeatists are those who say we are stuck there for the next decade of death and destruction.

In a memorandum to President Kennedy, roughly three months after his inauguration, one of us wrote with respect to Vietnam, 'There is no clearer example of a country that cannot be saved unless it saves itself.' Today, Iraq is an even clearer example." Read more.
Photo Credit: John F. Kennedy, photograph in the Oval Office. July 11, 1963. By Cecil Stoughton, White House. (Wikipedia)


sevenpointman said...

Howard Roberts

A Seven-point plan for an Exit Strategy in Iraq

1) A timetable for the complete withdrawal of American and British forces must be announced.
I envision the following procedure, but suitable fine-tuning can be applied by all the people involved.

A) A ceasefire should be offered by the Occupying side to representatives of both the Sunni insurgency and the Shiite community. These representatives would be guaranteed safe passage, to any meetings. The individual insurgency groups would designate who would attend.
At this meeting a written document declaring a one-month ceasefire, witnessed by a United Nations authority, will be fashioned and eventually signed. This document will be released in full, to all Iraqi newspapers, the foreign press, and the Internet.
B) US and British command will make public its withdrawal, within sixth-months of 80 % of their troops.

C) Every month, a team of United Nations observers will verify the effectiveness of the ceasefire.
All incidences on both sides will be reported.

D) Combined representative armed forces of both the Occupying nations and the insurgency organizations that agreed to the cease fire will protect the Iraqi people from actions by terrorist cells.

E) Combined representative armed forces from both the Occupying nations and the insurgency organizations will begin creating a new military and police force. Those who served, with out extenuating circumstances, in the previous Iraqi military or police, will be given the first option to serve.

F) After the second month of the ceasefire, and thereafter, in increments of 10-20% ,a total of 80% will be withdrawn, to enclaves in Qatar and Bahrain. The governments of these countries will work out a temporary land-lease housing arrangement for these troops. During the time the troops will be in these countries they will not stand down, and can be re-activated in the theater, if both the chain of the command still in Iraq, the newly formed Iraqi military, the leaders of the insurgency, and two international ombudsman (one from the Arab League, one from the United Nations), as a majority, deem it necessary.

G) One-half of those troops in enclaves will leave three-months after they arrive, for the United States or other locations, not including Iraq.

H) The other half of the troops in enclaves will leave after six-months.

I) The remaining 20 % of the Occupying troops will, during this six month interval, be used as peace-keepers, and will work with all the designated organizations, to aid in reconstruction and nation-building.

J) After four months they will be moved to enclaves in the above mentioned countries.
They will remain, still active, for two month, until their return to the States, Britain and the other involved nations.

2) At the beginning of this period the United States will file a letter with the Secretary General of the Security Council of the United Nations, making null and void all written and proscribed orders by the CPA, under R. Paul Bremer. This will be announced and duly noted.

3) At the beginning of this period all contracts signed by foreign countries will be considered in abeyance until a system of fair bidding, by both Iraqi and foreign countries, will be implemented ,by an interim Productivity and Investment Board, chosen from pertinent sectors of the Iraqi economy.
Local representatives of the 18 provinces of Iraq will put this board together, in local elections.

4) At the beginning of this period, the United Nations will declare that Iraq is a sovereign state again, and will be forming a Union of 18 autonomous regions. Each region will, with the help of international experts, and local bureaucrats, do a census as a first step toward the creation of a municipal government for all 18 provinces. After the census, a voting roll will be completed. Any group that gets a list of 15% of the names on this census will be able to nominate a slate of representatives. When all the parties have chosen their slates, a period of one-month will be allowed for campaigning.
Then in a popular election the group with the most votes will represent that province.
When the voters choose a slate, they will also be asked to choose five individual members of any of the slates.
The individuals who have the five highest vote counts will represent a National government.
This whole process, in every province, will be watched by international observers as well as the local bureaucrats.

During this process of local elections, a central governing board, made up of United Nations, election governing experts, insurgency organizations, US and British peacekeepers, and Arab league representatives, will assume the temporary duties of administering Baghdad, and the central duties of governing.

When the ninety representatives are elected they will assume the legislative duties of Iraq for two years.

Within three months the parties that have at least 15% of the representatives will nominate candidates for President and Prime Minister.

A national wide election for these offices will be held within three months from their nomination.

The President and the Vice President and the Prime Minister will choose their cabinet, after the election.

5) All debts accrued by Iraq will be rescheduled to begin payment, on the principal after one year, and on the interest after two years. If Iraq is able to handle another loan during this period she should be given a grace period of two years, from the taking of the loan, to comply with any structural adjustments.

6) The United States and the United Kingdom shall pay Iraq reparations for its invasion in the total of 120 billion dollars over a period of twenty years for damages to its infrastructure. This money can be defrayed as investment, if the return does not exceed 6.5 %.

7) During beginning period Saddam Hussein and any other prisoners who are deemed by a Council of Iraqi Judges, elected by the National representative body, as having committed crimes will be put up for trial.
The trial of Saddam Hussein will be before seven judges, chosen from this Council of Judges.
One judge, one jury, again chosen by this Council, will try all other prisoners.
All defendants will have the right to present any evidence they want, and to choose freely their own lawyers.

The Unknown Candidate said...

Thanks for a well thought out exit strategy, sevenpointman. I agree with your overall strategy; have questions about some of the details and would generally express a need for more Iraqi involvement in the planning of their own security and government. The iraqi's must be contributers to this plan, not just onlookers. We should be providing guidance and recommendations, but it is ultimately THEIR country and their decision as to how their government will operate. This is not meant to be a forum for detailed, in-depth policy debates; so I won't go into more here. Suffice to say, I greatly appreciate your ideas.

Peace, TUC

sevenpointman said...

Thanks for your comments.

It is very important to get a local decision making process of self-government and security into action.
In the forming of these 18 autonomous provinces or states, each area would be involved in creating municipal governance and developing, with the help of other provinces and some advisors approved by the individual province, a flexible plan to both take care of the need of security and to administer their region .
if all the steps of my plan are followed through this stage could be reached within 6-8 months.
If you have anymore questions I would be happy to answer them-on this blog or on my own blog:


The Unknown Candidate said...

Thanks for the clarification, friend. I'll pop in on your blog from time to time and hope you will reciprocate.