Thursday, September 22, 2005

Iraq: How to Get Out

Excerpts from a Saudi friend's letter:

If an American withdrawal were handled professionally and methodically, the chances of seeing a united Iraq may indeed grow, hence ostensibly benefiting the Iraqi people and the future of their country. Let us say that the Americans go to the UN with a fixed timetable and a declared policy to withdraw their troops while safeguarding Iraq. Coalition troops would be replaced in phases by UN-sanctioned troops from acceptable countries. A UN Resolution would emphasize the territorial integrity of Iraq and guarantee Iraqis, through the Security Council and the General Assembly, with all the international aid and support they may need.

In such a scenario it seems more likely that Shias, Sunnis and Kurds, faced with the shared determination of the international community and the help of their neighbors, would be ready to work responsibly towards filling a new vacuum rather than engaging in sectarianism and divisive politics. Such a consensus is already supported by the Iraqi people and neighboring countries, all strongly in favor of a united Iraq. The proposed scenario will of course leave many questions unanswered, but it seems a better alternative than American troops staying in Iraq to watch Iraqis die and a country disintegrate....

Americans do not like comparing the situation in Iraq to the one they faced in Vietnam. But on one crucial point, the comparison may be necessary. Withdrawing from Iraq may be a temporary embarrassment and setback for the United States, but this is due to an initially flawed policy, while withdrawal seems to be eminently sensible policy. America would also be strengthening its position at the UN and adding to the UN’s capacity to resolve similarly complicated disputes with steadfastness and adequate means. At the end of the day America will be a winner. It will be showing the world that it is able to correct flawed policy, to lead wisely, and to work for the best interests of all.
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