With the 2008 Presidential politics and “why Bloomberg” sorted out in Part 1 of this article:
the final ingredient for a Bloomberg victory in 2008 is presented in this Part 2 piece. That is delivering what the Democrats and Republicans have failed to and never will - an honorable and sensible Iraq Exit Plan. This article formally presents to the Bloomberg camp that solution, Plan C, aka the Bloomberg Iraq Withdrawal Plan. To set the stage, here first is a brief current assessment of the two major parties’ Iraq plans.
First, we have the GOP offering Plan A, aka the Surge. The 20,000 troop Surge is "tactically (Baghdad) local" as opposed to "geographically (Iraq) strategic" and why without 500,000 troops, it will never succeed in the aggregate. While it sounds sexy and aggressive, a Surge is nothing more than a tempest in a teapot approach, with no reach whatsoever. That inherent dysfunctionality doomed it from the get go and it’s just a matter of time before General Petraeus, as brilliant as he is purported to be, ends it when he sheepishly admits to the American people in September that he was seduced by the limelight into backing the wrong horse and wrong plan. Evidence too it not being the right strategy, note the growing erosion of party support vis-à-vis defection of mainstream GOP Congressman and Senators from backing the Administration’s Surge plan. Interestingly, while these defectors increasingly chastise their own party elite, they too offer no alternative plan, making their new positioning suspect at best and therefore merely an attempt to insincerely and opportunistically position themselves as “anti-war” in coming elections.
In an effort to buy time and thwart near term Democratic veto initiatives by stemming party defections during these crucial few months, the GOP has come up with a few clever tricks. As the Democrats try to leverage public discourse into a critical mass veto vote, which requires significant Republican participation, here comes the Warner-Lugar Plan. It effectively is a diversionary good-cop bad-cop time buying safe haven refuge for teetering Republican Senators and Congressman to keep them from succumbing to increased public anger and the lurching grips of the Democrats.
As for the Warner-Lugar “Plan” itself, it is anything but. In fact, it is merely a charade which treats the American public as if it lacks gray matter. A Plan to require a Plan is no Plan. Bottom line, the Warner-Lugar Plan is simply a plan to buy time.
Adding to the time buying diversionary tactic, even the Maliki government has in non-sensical fashion, stepped up to help out the GOP. Maliki’s statement over the past weekend that the US can leave anytime (author’s add-in: “but now”) is designed to implicitly boost confidence in the American public that indeed the Bush Surge strategy and security turnover are working, thereby mitigating growing negative sentiment toward the GOP and the Surge. In fact, one can see how irrationally ridiculous the Maliki statement is considering that same government within the last two weeks stated if the US leaves, the country will collapse into Civil War. Clearly then the GOP’s public relations strategy with the war is one built upon a campaign of flexible propaganda.
As for the Democrats, they provide nothing substantive in their “plan”, which is arguably anything but a plan. Instead, simply offering pontificating chest pounding anti-war sentiment vis-à-vis their Plan B. That Plan comprises only a baseless and floating arbitrary legislated withdrawal date. It includes absolutely no integrally linked functional withdrawal strategy, making their plan illegitimate and prone to sustainable veto. The added theatrics of an all night camp-out in the halls of Congress do nothing to address the major flaw of their plan – that is that they have no plan.
Without that attached withdrawal strategy, the Democrats will never win the withdrawal date argument, leaving them perennially encumbered with the Republican’s opportunistic “surrender” label. With it however, a credible new candidate can re-engineer Plan B into a tangible and honorable “turnover” (to the Iraqis) mantra. Afterall, turnover always follows liberation, and recall the American people bought into liberation, not occupation. Therefore, they will support a true controlled, disciplined, and accountable turnover, the antithesis of cut and run. Of course noting too that the fledgling and floundering attempt to date to turn over security to the Iraqis reflects neither a formal end state plan nor associated discipline and accountability to achieve it. The reason being is there is no plan. And why is there none? If one considers the Administration’s real intent as being occupation and not liberation, then there is a huge disincentive to properly and fully train and equip a functioning Iraqi Security Force that can assume and manage the country’s security needs. Afterall, if the Iraqis fully provided for their own security, and they certainly have the potential to do so (and would with true commitment by the US), our role would be redundant, and the entire global community would demand we leave.
So the solution is neither the dysfunctional Surge nor illegitimate baseless date certain withdrawal legislation. Rather, the real solution is a functional withdrawal strategy driving an accompanying integrated withdrawal timeline, championed by a viable candidate.
What must that withdrawal plan encompass?
Any valid plan must comprehensively couple disciplined withdrawal while ensuring both Iraqi security and strategic geographic anti-terror positioning for the U.S. One which both removes our troops substantially out of harm’s way (insurgent and IED infested cities and highways) and yet still retains our strong, geographically strategic presence in the region to do three things:
a) Control terrorist infestation in Iraq (i.e. prevent training camp infrastructure buildup),
b) Ensure a stable Iraqi (and overall Mideast) security situation by backing up the Iraqi Security Force (ISF) from a safe distance, and
c) Act as a velvet and if necessary sledge hammer to dissuade and deter further Iranian adventurism in the region and/or retain positioning as an anti-ballistic missile shield or net for the ever growing threat and potential of future Iranian nuclear missile launches at Israel and European allies.
Here then for the Bloomberg organization is an Iraq Exit Strategy Framework or withdrawal plan which unlike the Democrats Plan B, includes a “legitimate” timeline, because it includes a “legitimate” withdrawal strategy and accomplishes the 3 objectives above. Plan C provides that which has not yet been proposed - a sensible, date driven “2 Step” turnover, withdrawal, and strike plan framework:PLAN C:
Step 1: “3 for 1 and Done” Iraqization Turnover Strategy:
A disciplined, controlled and accountable (Pentagon/President) security turnover. Such does not now exist. We have 157,000 plus troops in Iraq. The Brookings Institute estimates 3x’s that many needed to secure the country. In a nutshell then, for every three Iraqis we (really) train and deploy, we bring home or redeploy one US service-person.
Author’s Note: The feeble and insincere attempt at what I’ll coin an ”Iraqization Program”, not unlike the “Vietnamization Program” 4 decades ago, is failing because there is absolutely no endgame Iraqi Security Force development plan nor the required resource commitment, discipline and accountability by the Pentagon (and President) to make it happen. Compounding that and a key missing ingredient is not leveraging the fear factor of what I’ll coin the Mideast Arab Secular Triangle (MAST) – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and pinnacled by a deafening silent, yet keenly interested Turkey. These countries desperately do not want Iraq to turn into a Dodge City like free for all haven for terrorists and Islamic extremists spilling over their own borders, as would occur with all out Iraq civil war and the country’s collapse. Unfortunately, while they accordingly each have a huge national security interest and their own sovereign stability stake in Iraq’s future, they’ve gladly allowed the US to take on full security responsibility and will continue to do so until we say enough, something we’ve not yet done – at all. That “enough” is now a key component of “3 for 1 and Done”. With our disciplined withdrawal and deployment, these countries are now burdened with ensuring success of “3 for One and Done” Iraqization. The penalty for not doing so is having no choice but to voluntarily fill any security voids as we withdraw to Plan C. And given their huge fear of Iraq collapsing, they most definitely will step up - and in. Note too another difference to Vietnamization. In Vietnam, there were no other regional countries (i.e. MAST equivalent) with the resource and interest wherewithal that we could leverage into the mix like we can in the Mideast.