In a press conference Monday, Bush defended his Iraqi policy, saying over and over an immediate withdrawal would be both a ‘disaster’ and a ‘huge mistake’.
Leaving before the job would be done would send a message that America really is no longer engaged, nor cares about the form of governments in the Middle East,” he said. “Leaving before the job was done would send a signal to our troops that the sacrifices they made were not worth it. Leaving before the job is done would be a disaster, and that’s what we’re saying.
Leaving Iraq now would also “provide safe haven for terrorists and extremists”, “embolden those who are trying to thwart the ambitions of reformers”, and “give the terrorists and extremists …revenues from oil sales.”
Of course, the current deteriorating situation in Iraq keeps Iraqi oil off the world market and inflates the price of oil, but hey, oil guys like Bush have to make a living too.
And how does Bush propose to accomplish his objectives of, uh, letting the world know that America cares deeply about Middle Eastern government and letting our troops know it’s okay to die? By moving some troops from Mosul to Baghdad. Why didn’t I think of that?
This week another proposal surfaced in the Washington Post, this one co-authored by presidential hopeful, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is also senator from Delaware and the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, and Les Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. This plan, ironically titled “A Plan to Hold Iraq Together”, calls for an approach similar to that used to end sectarian violence in Bosnia–dividing Iraq along sectarian lines and letting each keep its own militia, while providing for protection of minority groups and the division of oil profits as an incentive to keep the different groups working together.
First, the plan calls for maintaining a unified Iraq by decentralizing it and giving Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis their own regions. The central government would be left in charge of common interests, such as border security and the distribution of oil revenue.
Second, it would bind the Sunnis to the deal by guaranteeing them a proportionate share of oil revenue. Each group would have an incentive to maximize oil production, making oil the glue that binds the country together.
Third, the plan would create a massive jobs program while increasing reconstruction aid — especially from the oil-rich Gulf states — but tying it to the protection of minority rights.
Fourth, it would convene an international conference that would produce a regional nonaggression pact and create a Contact Group to enforce regional commitments.
Fifth, it would begin the phased redeployment of U.S. forces this year and withdraw most of them by the end of 2007, while maintaining a small follow-on force to keep the neighbors honest and to strike any concentration of terrorists.
Like the guy on Hawaii-Five-O used to say, “Sounds crazy, but it just might work.”
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