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The Exit Strategy from Iraq

The Exit Strategy from Iraq

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Published by Norman Spinrad
An exit strategy from Iraq that ends the war and American involvement without catastrophic results for the United States. The only way out without a disaster.
An exit strategy from Iraq that ends the war and American involvement without catastrophic results for the United States. The only way out without a disaster.

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Published by: Norman Spinrad on Sep 19, 2007
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08/31/2012

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 Norman Spinrad69 West 9th Street, Apt.4B New York, NY 10011 This article is freeware published as a vital public service. You are free,indeed encouraged, to distribute it as widely as possible, and particularly tomembers of Congress and relevant public officials. All commercial and paper publication rights reserved.THE EXIT STRATEGY FROM IRAQ:From the Hotseat to the Catbirdseatby Norman SpinradI have been very reluctant to broach this plan in public, because this isthe down and dirty, it is not simple, and it is very much hardball, and it may be that surfacing it in itself may make its implimentation that much moredifficult. For all I know, there may be back-channel diplomacy along theselines going on already, though there is no public evidence whatsoever thatthis is so, and the level of the Bush adminstration’s realpolitik street-smartsmakes it highly unlikely. Nor is there any public hint at such thinkingcoming from the Democratic opposition, so there seems to be nothing elsefor it.The first step is to face the inevitable: nothing is going to prevent Iraqfrom breaking up into three separate states one way or another. The Shiaand the Sunnis hate each other, the Kurds--the largest ethnic population inthe world that has never had its own nation-state--have a 100,000 well-armed and experienced militia and are just sitting back and waiting for Iraqto fall apart to the south of them.This is going to be the outcome. Once American policy accepts theinevitable, it can, should, and must, turn it to advantage.Step two is to realize that it is always easier and cheaper in terms of livesand treasure for a great power to cause trouble than to stop trouble, always better to be able to back an insurgency than to try to surppress it, as witnessthe American success against the Soviet Union and the Taliban inAfghanistan when its proxies were in the business of overthrowing regimesversus the current situation where American policy is to prop up the Karzaigovernment against warlordism and Taliban insurgency.So the United States should be talking to the governments of Turkey and
 
 present Iraqi Kurdistan and brokering the following three-way deal:At present, Turkey strongly opposes an independent Kurdistan on itssouthern border because of its own restive Kurdish population and becauseIraqi Kurdistan has more or less allowed its territory to serve as a refuge and base for PKK Turkish Kurd guerillas. So the deal is that the Iraqi Kurdsmust agree to cooperate with Turkey in eliminating their territory as a basefor the PKK and transship their oil through Turkey, in return for whichTurkey does not merely permit a sovereign Kurdish state on its souther  border, does not merely recognize it, but becomes its champion, its co- protector along with the United States, perhaps even sponsoring itsadmission to the United Nations.All three parties benefit. The Iraqi Kurds get their sovereign state. TheTurks not only get that state’s cooperation in dealing with the PKK, but asthe internation champion of that Kurdish state, the Turkish governmentestablishes better relations with its own Kurdish minority, and enhances itscredentials for joining the European Union, and garners American pressuretowards that end. And oh yes, the flow of Kurdish oil through Turkey andTurkish ports.The United States then may withdraw its troops from the Shia and Sunnifragments of former Iraq and let them have at each other, which they arealready doing anyway, and secure an air base and a ground force base for nomore than say 25,000 troops in a very friendly Kurdistan, grateful for boththe American godfathering of its nationhood and for a protective American presence.From 150,000 troops in a lost war Hotseat to a minimal presence atminimal cost in the regional Catbirdseat.Of course Iran and Syria will be outraged and rather frightened, sincethere are large and chronically restive Kurdish minorities within each of their national territories on either side of a well armed and well-financedKurdish state supported by their traditional regional nemisis Turkey and withan American air force and special forces base within easy striking distance.What a pity to so discomfort two regimes who have proven themselves to besuch loyal and enthusiastic allies of the United States!Better to be in a position to cause trouble than be sucked into a quagmirewhere you have to try to stop it. Better to have potential benefit back insurgencies with no more than air cover and special forces than trying tocombat them with a large gendarmerie army.And the United States would be in a position to cause a great deal of trouble for Syria and Iran if those regimes continued to be annoyances. Easyenough to stir up Kurds in Syria and/or Iran when your Kurdish ally would
 
 be only too happy to do it for you as long as you supplied arms, protectionfrom Syrian and Iranian retaliation against Kurdistan, and maybe a littlefriendly air cover to the insurgencies.The Syrians could be told that the United States would, shall we say, donothing to impede the natural desire of their Kurdish minority to merge their territory with Kurdistan, unless Syria ceased meddling in Lebanon andliquidated Hezbollah and all terrorist groups operating from Syrian territory.The Iranians could be told something similiar, with the addition thatcontinuing attempts to build a nuclear weapons program would make itimpossible for the United States to act as a restraining force against theIranian Kurdish insurgency that could begin at any moment if they did notlisten to sweet reason.The Catbirdseat.Without an American army held hostage in the midst of the civil war inthe remains of Iraq, the United States could foment insurgencies in Iran or Syria any time those regimes were foolish enough to ask to be taught alesson. Even no reason not to provide air cover to such insurgencies. If theSyrian or Iranian air forces chose to fire at American planes, most of their territory could be declared no fly zones, as was done with Saddam’s Iraq. If the no fly zones were violated, the Syrian air force, flying vintage Soviethardware, or the Iranian air force, flying old American stuff, could easily beeliminated.That’s the bellicose version. That’s the hardball version. Even the beanball version, or at least a high hard one under the chin when necessaryto back the opposing side off the plate. But there’s another baseball analogythat constructive diplomacy could apply to such a situation: the trade thathelps all ballclubs. If they were willing to deal Iran and Syria could getsomething out of it too.Because none of this is going to settle the civil war between Sunni andShia Arabs in Iraq. The only way it can end is with a Shia victory. And thenthe question becomes how much influence will the United States allow Iranto have with the resultant Iraqi Shia state that had most of the oil.Allow because the United States will be in a position to make moretrouble for Iran than any dominance over that state and even its oil couldever be worth. But if the present Iranian regime played ball with the UnitedStates, stopped its nuclear weapons program not under threat but as a goodwill gesture however fatuous, sought a resumption of diplomatic and tradedrelations, and so forth, it would be no skin off American teeth to allow asclose a relationship between Shia Iraq and Iran as the emnity between Araband Persians, fellow Shia or not, would allow.

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