Saturday, October 02, 2004

Exit Strategy

The best way to get democracy and stability in Iraq would be to have anti-occupation campaigns win in Iraq, so that a representative government (representative of the majority of Iraqis), would be seen standing up to the Americans and asking them to leave. This would help show that democracy is actually effective, and isn't just some divide-and-conquer tool of a foreign ideology and imperial power.

Freedom and independence go together, in the American experience as well.

This outcome would actually be a win for the Americans, because most of them, especially the troops, want to leave. But they feel they can't, unless and until there's a stable government in place first.

Right now, what unifies Iraqis is a desire for freedom from occupation. This outcome would help cement that unity, perhaps averting the much feared civil war. The new government would have a measure of legitimacy, for having reversed an intensely unpopular state of affairs.

But isn't another goal to have Iraqis friendly to America? This too could be accomplished given the tremendous unpopularity of the current Bush administration's Iraq policy: some of the largest peaceful street demonstrations in history, and an historical record of strong denunciations from both liberals and conservatives (I'm distinguishing between conservative and neocon, which latter is actually a form of radicalism).

Americans and Iraqis would form a bond (I feel it even today), as both would be using democratic mechanisms to turn wildly unpopular policies around.

This only sketches the exit strategy in broad outline, and details do matter. However, it does suggest that a first and immediate step must be to include anti-occupation candidates and commercials in the Iraqi media, and to echo their message back to Americans, so that the beginnings of this new coalition might be established and nurtured.

I have written extensively about the need for a real democratic process in Iraq, meaning the need for anti-occupation points of view to get the full protection and support of those in a position to provide them.

I remain hopeful that the US military will see the wisdom in this exit strategy (General Wesley Clark, Ret. has sounded some positive notes lately, which could be indicative). It creates unity with the Iraqis, preserves democracy, provides a way home for the troops, which have already done any job they might reasonably be expected to do (Saddam captured, WMD-free status of Iraq verified).

The main long term cost is we'll need to flag any long term imperialist goals of the current occupation as anti-American. That's not a huge price to pay, as they most certainly are. It's a price we can well afford.