What is being hailed as the September of Discontent is coming to a close. What was supposed to be the month that we made the leap forward and brought the troops home is not going to be. The protests that have been held the past few weekends and that will be held next weekend are not in vain---yet. But they will be if Americans don’t get something straight. That is, Americans have to decide how much they want to end the war; that is, are Americans willing to work so hard or put so much deliberation in withdrawal for so little?
We have an atmosphere of dissent that needs to be focused. We have a vast amount of people who have been driven angrily over the edge (and rightfully so). Those people need to take a moment to breathe and evaluate the situation so that we can end this war. How many more weekends do you want to go out and wave a sign? Why not move from senseless protesting to civically promoting a mapped out plan to really get our troops home? Don’t you ever get tired of having to protest?
So, let's look at what we have going against us---and there’s a lot.
We have a Republican president who has adopted irrational policy similar to what Hans Morgenthau theorized in his Six Principles of Realism. Bush has used superstition (Christian fundamentalism/his “mandate from Heaven”) to compensate for his inexperience in foreign policy, he has used intelligence to reinterpret reality to fit policy (the justifications for going into Iraq and continuing war with Iraq), and he is looking to take action, any kind of action, to create the illusion that he has command over an uncontrollable reality he has helped create (an invasion into Iran).
The Congress has a clear majority in the House but in the Senate there is really no hope because the Democrats cannot get the votes. A majority of 50-49 is nullified by Joe Lieberman’s decision to be the tool of this administration and spout off nonsensical rhetoric whenever he pleases for the Bush Administration. Last week saw a Webb Amendment fail, it saw a MoveOn condemnation pass which proved the Senate would rather vote on talk about the war than vote on the war, and it saw Bush call for nearly 200 billion dollars more to fund a continuation of the war, a continuation with no end in sight.
Outside of foreign policy and Congress, politically, the two parties, Democrats and Republicans, are focused on an election in 2008 rather than getting out. The Democrats would rather we stay in Iraq so the Republicans can continue to look bad than work vigorously to get our men and women in harm’s way home. The Republicans would rather do what Bush tells them than break with the president and be disloyal. The Republicans suffer from groupthink, and with the Democrats not stopping them, the American people lose.
What do we have going for us?
Universally, polls show Americans want out. No matter how media pundits, conservative talk radio hosts, or members of the Bush administration and Congress put it, we want our troops home now.
So, now that we fully understand the situation, I will lay down a three-point plan that involves closure, which is what all Americans want if we are to withdraw and bring troops home. By closure, Americans don’t want to leave Iraq in ruin after we supposedly went in to bring freedom from dictatorship to Iraq. It also is bipartisan in that it puts control in the people’s hands and not Congress. We tell them to follow this plan because they have failed to do their job.
1) Conserve and Liberate
The use of those two words “conserve” and “liberate” will allow Democrats to frame the debate and replace “cut and run” with something that calls into question the patriotism of Republicans and not Democrats. Republicans, who are supposedly conservatives, will have to explain why more money should be spent on this war. Republicans will also have to explain why they would not want to “liberate” Iraq from our occupation. Having framed the debate correctly, Democrats can then advance the debate so that oil companies and contracting companies such as the now notorious Blackwater can be withdrawn. Only after withdrawal of all military forces, contracting companies, and oil companies will Iraq be able to become stable as magnets for stateless terrorism will be gone. UN peacekeepers or even better, peacekeeepers from neutral Islamic countries from the region can come in and clean out guerrillas who refuse to leave after we “liberate” Iraq.
2) Internationally Supervised Elections
The government in Iraq, while in place, is largely dysfunctional because we are meddling in its affairs. August of 2003 saw the bombing of the UN’s international headquarters in Baghdad, which ended up putting a limit on the supervision it could give to elections in January of 2005. The election had a lot of controversy despite the fact that Iraq gained a symbol of freedom---a blue thumb. International supervision was limited largely because the Bush administration wanted to make sure a leader to their liking was elected and therefore, the leaders elected may not quite be what the people of Iraq had intended to elect.
Internationally supervised elections are required to get the Iraqi government refocused on getting food, street security, electricity, and health care, which have become scarce since we plunged the country into chaos, to the people of Iraq.
3) Continue and Recommit to Humanitarian Aid
The people of Iraq, for all they have been through, deserve this commitment. In 1979, we began to support Saddam making him our dictator and our ally. Years later, we gave Saddam chemical and biological weapon materials, which he used to gas Kurds and do other horrifying things to the Iraqi people. Then, in the 1990s we put sanctions with the support of the UN on Iraq, which resulted in the deaths of over 500,000 children. And now we have a refugee crisis that we allowed to rise, which Amnesty International is now justly calling attention to.