Rebellion in Washington
by Eric Margolis by Eric Margolis
This week’s Iraq Study Group report on Iraq turned out to be a bombshell that is shaking official and political Washington.
The report, prepared by a blue-ribbon panel of Republican and Democrat moderates, found the security situation in Iraq u201Cgrave and deteriorating.u201D US Iraq policy has failed. The panel flatly contradicted claims by President George Bush and VP Dick Cheney the war was going well.
The Study Group sensibly called for total withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq by March 2008. Less sensibly, it urged US u201Cadvisorsu201D be left behind to train and stiffen Iraqi forces. The US tried the same thing in the Vietnam war. It didn’t work then; it won’t work now.
The ISG estimated the Iraq war’s total cost at more than $1 trillion — twice the cost of the Vietnam War. The administration has labored to conceal the mammoth costs of this absurd misadventure. In 2003, the Bush Administration’s original cost estimate was $20—40 billion!
The Iraq Study Group achieved three important goals. First, it told Americans what they have not heard for the past six years: the truth. The war in Iraq is lost. It’s time to retreat from this debacle.
Second, the ISG provided protective cover for legislators to oppose powerful special interests advocating continued occupation of Iraq, and war against Iran. Third, it made clear a fair solution must be found to the festering Israel-Palestine dispute which lies at the heart of Mideast tensions and terrorism.
The ISG report revived a politically explosive proposal: an Arab-Israeli settlement based on the 1967 UN Resolution 242. This historic resolution calls for a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace based on Israel’s withdrawal to its pre-war 1967 borders. Which means Israel’s sharing Jerusalem and removing settlements from the West Bank, which, with Gaza, would become a new Palestinian state, and returning the Golan Heights to Syria.
Israel’s expansionist rightwing parties and their American neoconservative allies, long and bitterly opposed 242. They found firm backing from George Bush, Dick Cheney, and America’s evangelical Christian far right.
In 2002, the Arab League adopted a long overdue Saudi-initiated plan to recognize Israel, end hostilities, and normalize relations based on 242. Israel’s rightwing government rebuffed the plan, though the proposal received cautious support from Israel’s center and left.
The panel urged Washington to engage with Syria and Iran. Since the Bush Administration has been threatening war against both nations, one wonders why they would help Bush out of the hole he dug in Iraq and free up his bogged-down troops.
The ISG report is coming under intense fire from neocons who still yearn for war against Iran, even though the war they engineered against Iraq is the worst disaster in modern US history. Its ill-effects will be felt for a generation.
This sensible, balanced report is America’s logical exit strategy from the raging inferno neocon arsonists ignited in Iraq. It gives Bush political cover — if he is wise enough to use it — to reverse his ruinous Iraq policies before Republicans again pay the price in 2008 presidential elections.
As for wretched Iraq, it must be left to sort out its own problems. A US pullout would worsen the current bloodbath in the short term, but at least the US will no longer be part of the problem and prisoner of Iraq’s run-amok factions. The world should demand Iran use its growing power in Iraq to halt ethnic cleansing and murderous rampages by Shia militias and death squads.
The best solution: short-term security mission by troops from the Arab League, Pakistan, and India to replace American troops and try to maintain some sort of order until Iraq’s mind-numbing problems can be sorted out. In the end, Iraqis, not the White House or congressmen from New York, must determine Iraq’s destiny.
Left alone, Iraqis — and also Afghans — will eventually work out a modus vivendi. But their wounds will not begin to heal until foreign occupation troops depart.