Why are U.S. troops still in Iraq? After all the lies about this war have been exposed, one would think that the American people would be shouting from the housetops for an end to the senseless loss of life of young American soldiers, now numbering 1,827.
So why are U.S. troops still in Iraq? The excuse often given when someone doesn’t want to do something is that the action in question is just too complicated to be carried out.
The war in Iraq is no different.
Douglas Feith, the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, in a recent interview on NPR, said that withdrawal from Iraq is “not a simple matter.” Feith, who will shortly be leaving his post to spend more time with his family, follows Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz in civilian authority at the Pentagon, and is considered to be a principal architect of U.S. postwar strategy in Iraq. Feith has not been without his critics, even within the establishment. Retired Army general Tommy Franks called him “the stupidest guy on the face of the Earth.”
But, Mr. Feith, it is a simple matter. Stop making excuses for the fact that you don’t want U.S. troops to leave Iraq. The withdrawal of all U.S. and coalition forces from Iraq is a simple matter. And don’t dismiss me as an idealist with my head in the clouds. I am not naïve enough to think that the entire U.S. military could leave Iraq tomorrow. However, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
There is no one correct plan to withdraw from Iraq. But in my opinion, to withdraw the U.S. military from Iraq in not only a safe, reasonable, and timely manner, but also in a just manner, the following simple steps should be taken.
Step one: Announce to Iraq that our invasion was a horrible mistake, as was our intervention in the region for the last fifty years. Tell Iraq that we intend to withdraw every American soldier as soon as possible. Apologize for the tens of thousands of Iraqis that were killed by our bullets, bombs, or sanctions.
Step two: Stop all killing, bombing, patrols, arrests, imprisonments, and interrogations. Maintain a defensive position until exiting the country.
Step three: Perform the logistics necessary to leave the country. Tell the troops to start packing.
Step four: Apologize to our troops for sending them to Iraq, and especially our wounded. Apologize to the families of all our soldiers killed in Iraq. Release from confinement all U.S. soldiers imprisoned for refusing to fight, like Sgt. Kevin Benderman.
Step five: Announce to every country that was a member of our “coalition,” and especially to Great Britain, that they made a horrible mistake in following our lead in invading Iraq. Tell them that they should immediately withdraw all their forces from Iraq. Let them know that we intend to withdraw as soon as possible and that if they choose to remain in Iraq then they do so without our protection. The United States should also apologize to every country that it demonized for not supporting our invasion of Iraq.
Step six: Announce to Iraq that there will be no future military interventions or interference with the government of the country. If the government of Iraq wants to hire former members of the U.S. military to train their military and police forces or contractors to rebuild the country then that is their business. No U.S. troops will be stationed in Iraq to guard Halliburton employees. Americans who work in Iraq will do so at their own risk. Offer to purchase as much oil as Iraq can supply to give the country funds to rebuild its infrastructure.
Step seven: Use every available truck, plane, and ship to get the troops out. Squad by squad, platoon by platoon, company by company, battalion by battalion, squadron by squadron, brigade by brigade, division by division, corps by corps — it doesn’t matter, just get the troops out.
Once these seven steps are carried out, there are two other steps that those of us who want to return to the nonintervention policy of the Founding Fathers would like to see taken:
Step eight: Put the world on notice — withdrawal from your country is next.
Mr. Feith may not agree with these steps. He may think that they could not be carried out. He may even dismiss me as a simpleton. But one thing is certain; these steps would not result in the deaths of any more American soldiers — unlike any of the plans circulating in the Bush administration.