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Move out of Iraq, argues retired General and NSA Director Odom

Everything that opponents of a pullout say would happen if the U.S. left Iraq is happening already, says retired Gen. William E. Odom, the head of the National Security Agency during the Reagan administration. The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard published his op-ed and fellow Fulbrighter Bernhard Lucke recommended it to us: "I think it provides a lot of insight. I always had a feeling that something goes totally wrong in Iraq, but was afraid of pulling out, too, as are probably most of us. Now I've changed my mind."

Odom attacks the most popular arguments against pulling out of Iraq, like "We would leave behind a civil war, lose credibility on the world stage, embolden the insurgency and cripple the move toward democracy; Iraq would become a haven for terrorists; Iranian influence in Iraq would increase," etc.

Related post in the Atlantic Review in September: Iraq: Is the US giving up?

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Chris on :

A lot of institutional brass in the Army and Marines would agree with Odom, just look at Jack Murtha. The Neocons, Psyops, Special Forces guys in the Pentagon are Rumsfeld's favorite and they are the most belligerent. I anticipate that this debate withing the five walls will spill out into the press in bundles in 2006

Martin Hermann on :

From Yahoo: Most U.S. troops will leave Iraq within a year because the Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth," Rep. John Murtha told a civic group. "I predict he'll make it look like we're staying the course," Murtha said, referring to Bush. "Staying the course is not a policy." "I admit I made a mistake when I voted for war," Murtha said. "I'm looking at the future of the United States military." http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051201/ap_on_go_co/congress_iraq_murtha_3 I don't have any Schadenfreude, rather I am concerned about the mess the US is leaving behind, if they pull out in 2006. I don't think the US has the right to abandon the Iraqis to the terrorists. If the Iraqi army isn't ready in 2006, it is still the fault of the US if full scale civil war breaks out.

Rosemary on :

Dear Martin, Have no fear. We will never run as long as President Bush is president. Most of us, including me, agree with President Bush. Polls, you say? HA! Are you aware they only polled 23% of Republicans? Aha! 'Tis true. There will not be a civil war? Look to Viet Cong! Then look to WWII. Which do you see? This will show you where you stand. I believe we are in the beginning of WWIV (the cold war being WWIII). Whoever sees this is reliving or looking at it as if it were the Viet Nam war. It is not. It is far from it. There are some similarities, however. The press is against it. The democrats are against it, but they don't have the backbone to put their vote where their mouths are. The men on the field know we are winning! What a sad shame when your own country wishes to lose only to gain power. Power over what?

David on :

Rosemary, What planet are you living on? EVERY poll shows that Americans have lost support for President Bush. Those Republicans who are up for reelection refuse to be seen in public with him - because that would be poison for their campaigns. Why have Americans turned against President Bush? Disgust and anger over the war in Iraq: the deception going in and the bungled leadership since then.

Chris on :

Please read today's London Times. Please sit back and realize that a year from now, BushCo. will be toasting victory and his ratings will drop to the teens. Don't believe me? Robert Baer says the ayatollahs are ready to give us the boot if the Shiite religious parties win this election and big.

Pierre on :

a) Odom (as former head of the NSA) knows more about the Soviet order of battle circa 1989 than he knows about the current US Army. To someone with his background, the Iraq is war is incomprehensible because it broke the longstanding US emphasis on 'stability' and exposed NATO as essentially useless. In other words the US is now acting unilaterally and (largely) alone, without its allies. In addition, Rumsfeld's attempts to make the Army lighter and more mobile (deemphasizing armored and other heavy units) are contrary to older doctrines regarding force structures, attack/defense ratios, etc. So people like Odom find them very disconcerting. b) re: Murtha-- there are two possibilities: i) he doesn't know what he's talking about; ii) he's lying. Retention and recruitment rates and supply are not nearly the problems they appear to be from looking at the press. Check out: http://miserabledonuts.blogspot.com/2005/12/army-broken.html c) From the polls showing that a small majority of Americans do not think the war was 'worth it', it does not follow that buggering out is the preferred response. There are other polls that show public support for sticking it out to be quite high, and increased support for Bush in the past 2 weeks. I understand the rhetorical purposes of overemphasizing US difficulties in Iraq; but when you start believing your own propaganda, you're in deep do do.

Chris on :

a.) how many divisions from the "transformation" era do you command? b.) National Guard recruiting is woeful. Ditto reserve. Regular Army missed it's 2005 goal by thousands, and that goal was repeatedly lowered. Standards have gone down. Even enviable MOS are way understaffed, and the less enviable ones are finding rifles under their Christmas tree, so said John Warner last week. c.) both the American people and George W. Bush are pretty clueless about this thing overall.

PierreM on :

a) irrelevant-- try addressing what I said. Odom's comments are made from an antique understanding of force structure, doctrine and the nature and importance of US' alliances. You have to address those issues. Take a look at the Hudson Institute's website: it's like looking at a mausoleum of the Cold War. b) Air Force reserve and AFNG recruiting is worst. The Army is 'thousands' short because (the last I saw) the Congress authorized an increase of around 8,000 in size and the Army was 7,000 short (i.e., they were up 1,000 YTD). In addition, as far as I know, all the ground combat active duty units are exceeding retention rates. The ones closest to the fight seem to think they're winning. The NG and reserve recruiting will go up and down a lot as the DOD shifts the mix of units that are active duty vs. reserve/NG. They are working on moving needed support units active and other active units to reserve/NG. In addition, current recruiting problems are not substantially worse than other yearly figures going back the past 10 years. c) The press is more clueless than any other party.

Chris on :

a.) fair enough. Odom and Murtha are old line, but their opinions should not be discounted just for that reason. Further, maybe transformation is a shitty policy. Maybe the post war planning was run by nitwits. b.) your recruiting numbers are off and you minimalize a substantial problem. Go here: http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,78512,00.html there are more problems than just troop recruiting. equipment is in rough shape. http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,81287,00.html I saw the Wall Street Journal last week saying we can leave some of our trucks for the Iraqi army. Ha, funny, they don't work. Many have surpassed service life. c.) yeah, the media is pretty off on this war. they're not asking the most important questiong: can we trust the shiite army and police? we can't. the dust up has just begun.

Bernhard on :

Since I work in Jordan since 2001, and visited the region every year for about 3 months, I think I know the Arab world quite well. I've visited Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Turkey and Lebanon. Sorry about a longer comment, but I think too many people have wrong ideas about the region. Now one thing is clear: the very vast majority of Arabs and Muslims was against the war and is against the occupation. Here's a recent link to prove it: about 85 % of Iraqis want the U.S. to leave according to a secret poll [url]http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/10/23/wirq23.xml&sSheet=/news/2005/10/23/ixworld.html[/url] This means that also a majority of Kurds and Shiites wants to see the foreign troops out of the country (which does not surprise me, to conclude from the Iraqi people you meet in Amman). There is no doubt that the war was a grave political mistake that undermines the position of the west on the long run. On the short run, it helps the terrorists. The question is not whether Iraq will become a western democracy - everybody working in the region knows that the Arab world will need some decades of civil development before such a goal can be achieved. And it will only be achieved if it develops from inside, supported by peace and prosperity, and not if imposed by foreign troops. But the question is whether and when a pullout of troops from Iraq is possible. I was very afraid of the negative consequences, and thought that even if Kerry became president, he would be stuck in the war. This is why some Democrats believed it might be better that Bush is still president, so he has to bear the consequences himself. However I have to say that Odom convinced me that a fast retreat is the best that can be done. In fact, visiting the above mentioned Arab countries, you can physically feel the tension that is brought there by the presence of US troops in Iraq. Considering how expensive this military adventure is, not to speak about the poor soldiers who are sacrified, every chance to reduce the troops should be used. Comparing the state of the Arab world, its relations to the western world, terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before and after the war, I conclude that nothing has improved, but a lot has become much worse. See an interesting link about recent moves of al-Quaeda, which was only possible as its general support in the Arab and Muslim world grows (thanks to Iraq): [url]http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=1091[/url] It seems this gnosis reached the democratic leadership: [url]http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/01/AR2005120101491.html[/url] and I'm very happy that a real political alternative may be available in the future. Talking about reasons of the war - have a look at a video summarising some frightening funny interviews in the U.S. regarding Iraq ;-) [url]http://www.uniquepeek.com/fusion_pages/index.php?page_id=213[/url] As a lot of people like to draw historic parallels to WWII, here's my one: I wonder whether it resembles to some extent the German attack on Russia in 1941 . We were also told many nightmares about the evil eastern babarians, believed in the moral superiority and honour of our troops, and some people may even have believed we were bringing civilisation there. There was a lot of talking about patriotism, strength, and necessary sacrifices (including that some people could not be afforded to be treated well). But I think you all know who comitted the worst crimes. As a German, and looking into history, I'd say it can't be surprising that imperialistic aggressive wars do not solve problems. Removing dictators may be wise, but there's no unlimited subsequent occupation needed to accomplish that. All in all, this war questioned the identity of the west, in my opinion (just remember the word torture - can such an issue really be an option? I thought this dispute was settled since the 18th century).

PierreM on :

a) Your experience in Jordan tells you what the majority of Arabs you deal with there think; not i) what all Arabs think; nor (more importantly) ii) whether what they think is in fact, correct. b) any poll with results showing or implying a majority of Kurds want the US out of Iraq is highly suspect; c) 'civil development': you can't have adequate civil development in dictatorial regimes that already lack them. Chile is the exception that proves the rule: Pinochet's economic programs succeeded because he was able to take advantage of existing economic and legal institutions. In the Middle East, those institutions either don't exist or are only tools of the ruling clique. Developing civil institutions in these countries without first introducing political change is impossible. Look at Africa: Europeans address every possible social problem (disease, poverty, illiteracy, etc.) without daring to address the fundamental cause of all those problems, the regimes that exist only to extort cash from the local populace, resource extraction, and Western aid programs. If you don't get rid of those regimes, nothing will change. d) Barbarossa: the analogy is so absurd (in terms of size, geographical location, military actions, treatment of civilians) as to preclude any possible response. When the US gasses 98% of Iraq's Sunni population, perhaps you can make the analogy. I understand that contemporary Germans have raised the art of the tu quoque defense to a new level, but this is ridiculous.

Bernhard on :

Dear Pierre, dear Rosemary, I think you should have a look at the rethorics and paroles, and you'll see that Iraq is well-comparable with Barbarossa. Some of the keep-it-going paroles are in fact identical. It is never possible to really compare historical wars with present ones, as operations, technologies and motives always differ. But I am aiming at the "feeling" and rethorics in the aggressor's country. It is misleading the public systematically (and this U.S. government loves it so much to draw historical comparisons, so we whould help them to target the right event). If you disagree, I suggest you should volunteer to serve in Iraq, because the U.S. is in desparate need of troops and civil personnel there. It is, by the way, well paid (in the end, by your taxes). By the way, it is a little bit like in Germany in 1942 and 43: So many people had strong words how to win at the east front, but nobody was willing to go there. I'm afraid that too many Americans have very limited knowledge about the Arab world. I met many ppl. who were even afraid to go to Jordan, Lebanon or Syria and thought I am crazy. Well, I have always felt very safe there, safer than for example in Israel. Going to Iraq is crazy, because you enter a war zone, and every foreigner is a target. However in one aspect I changed my mind: although I oppose wars, I now strongly support the draft we have in Germany. A drafted army is not so easily sent to conquer foreign countries, at least not if decision are made in a democratic way. And the only thing that made some of my American friends think twice was when told them they might be drafted to Iraq. If you think the bulldozer-policy of the present government is of help, go ahead, but be ready to pay the price. In my opinion, there will never be democracy in the Arab world, as long as the west (we all) support dictators and illusive republics. The truth is: while the U.S. and Europe are talking about more democracy, we are arming and paying the present leaders to keep them in place. I don't believe any word of this democracy-talking of the Bush administration, and I wonder whether they believe it themselves. They are trying to change puppets and to extend their influence. If the Arab states would really have democracy, I give a bet they would become much more Islamic, kick a lot of westerners out and launch another war against Israel. I am very sure that Iran is in fact the only democracy in the Middle East, or at least the country that comes closest to the idea of democratic power. If Egypt now has free elections and the Muslim brotherhood becomes strongest party, it will be interesting to see which reasons will be found why they can't govern the country. What is needed to shake your faith in the phrases in this U.S. government? Are invasions, torture and secret concentration camps not enough?

Martin Hermann on :

@ Pierre I agree. Odom's expertise is more from the Cold War, but I do think he knows quite a bit about insurgencies since the US supported quite a few of them during the Cold War and was analysing many others. Besides, he is a retired General, who's experience from at the front lines is more valuable today than the ideology of the chicken hawks in Washington.

Ralf Goergens on :

Chris, Martin Herrmann, David, and Bernhard: I disagree, Iraq is an unqualified success. It isn't pretty, but things are coming along quite nicely. The insugents are on the run, and there won't be a civil war. There have been casualties, but much fewer than there would have been if Saddam still were in power and free to continue his bloody reign. Iraq was a mess long before the war, and fixing it takes time and effort. But that doesn't mean that it is wrong to try.

PierreM on :

Why Ralf, for once,I almost agree with you! I would only ad that it is a 'qualified' success in the sense that 'success' has to be understood in terms of existing conditions in Iraq and the war itself. a) the initial invasion was brilliantly conceived and executed: no ther army of such size has advanced so quickly and achieve its primary objective (destruction of Saddam's regime) so quickly. b) 'dissolving the Iraqi Army': the Iraqi Army largely dissolved itself. If I remember correctly, the US captured less than 20K troops this time. Trying to reconstitute this Army would have meant installing a Baath-lite regime, and (more importantly) would have clearly been seen to be doing so by the Shiites and the Kurds. If you think the cirrent insurgency is bad, imagine the Shiites and Kurds backed by Iran against the US and the Sunnis. c) 'not preventing looting': there was no way the US military was going to shoot a bunch of Shiite looters. Wasn't going to happen, ever. d) 'bungling reconstruction': Saddam Hussein actually succeeded in achieving 'communism' in the sense of the complete withering away of the State. The Iraqi state was essentially replaced by the Baath Party; when Saddam fell, everyone from the village dog-catcher to Hussein himself went into hiding. There was nothing to 'reconstruct'. In large part, the entire state apparatus had to be built up from scratch. e) 'too few troops': to few for what? What would they have done, besides provide more targets and more civilians killed and alienated? The trick is to use only the minimum amount of force required. The fact is that Iraq is only Arab country with a representative government, less than 3 years since the invasion. Faster than Germany after the war (to say nothing of Japan).

Chris on :

Ralf, elements of the Iraqi police are just the Badr brigade in a uniform. Not only are they well linked with Iran, but they have also brutalized Sunnis. There are 60 - 70 assassinations A DAY in Iraq, and most are of a Sectarian nature. The insurgents run when the US comes to town. Agreed. But they have not disbanded.

Rosemary on :

Oh my. I just have a humble point to make. In the USA last year, there were 16,000 murders, I do not have any idea how many thousands of car deaths from drinking, etc. Are we discussing how many people die as a comparrision to whether or not there is progress? For shame on you! Step by step, from the shores Normandy, we lost more men than was acceptable. Should we have turn around and gone home? How shortsighted are you? I'm terribly sorry, but it upsets to realize there are people in the world whom do not realize the threat that real and it is evil. It will be coming to greet you, too. We are doing something about it. Can you say the same? Have a nice day.

Rosemary on :

PS. David. Please do not end your sentences with prepositions. :) Pierre, very well challenged. You understand there are mistakes in everything. I do not expect if we did apologize for not being perfect anyone would bother to take notice! :)

Martin Hermann on :

@ Rosemary 16,000 murders a year is a lot and should be of concern to you. I am shocked that you think this is not a problem. No other Western country has such a high rate of violent crime. Except for Iraq, there is even less violent crime in the Arab world. According to the United Nations Demographic Yearbook published in 1998, the murder rate in Egypt for 1996 was 0.5 per 100,000. The figure for the US was 9.4 per 100,000 for the same year, but the official US figure was 7.3 per 100,000. Re Normandy: The Second World War was not a war of choice like Iraq.

Ralf Goergens on :

Chris, that's not good, but reconstruction won't fail over this. Don't forget, under Saddam there was a lot more violence, in toture chambers, or mass murders right in thre open. Iran is in a much more precarious situation than it thinks and looks right now, and will soon have other worries than subverting Iraq.

Chris on :

Ralf, thanks for approaching this from a reasonable debating standpoint instead of invoking the Rangers at Pointe du Hoc. I would not argue that Saddam was evil. I would not argue that removing him was a good thing to do. Nor will I even argue that it was poorly conducted and so was negligent planning that has cost many lives. I am most upset that critical analysis of this conflict is absent and replaced by the invocation of platitudes. I am concerned that the war planning remains naive, as it neglects the Shiite insurgencies and general day to day violence. I am also concerned that mission drift is evident up to this point, and likely will continue for the duration of U.S. deployment. The Jeffersonian democracy is no longer a goal, not even from the administration's standpoint. When will quasi-democracy be abandoned? The administration fears 2008 as the reaction year in the electorate, not 2006. We're digging in for a long time. The generals in Iraq (I believe it was Dempsey, but I gotta check) said in Saturday's Washington Times that Iraq may have trouble fielding 10 divisions and a modern air force. Who do you think will provide that air cover? Seymour Hirsch said last week on Hardball that Air Force brass are worried sick about Iraqis settling scores by painting questionable targets with our sophisticated targeting systems. It's a mess.

Bernhard on :

Here are 2 more links very worth reading. However, subscription is required to see the full text. For those really interested in first-hand reports & analysis: [url]http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200512/iraq-withdrawal[/url] [url]http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200512/iraq-army[/url]

Chris on :

If anyone wants to read an Atlantic article, send me an email and I'll reply back with it.

Joerg W on :

Great debate! *THANK* *YOU* to all commentators Chris of [url]http://editcopy.blogspot.com/[/url] informed me of a Hardball interview with General Odom. You can watch the full 12 minutes online here: [url]http://video.msn.com/v/us/v.htm?g=eb2a1d30-5983-4674-906b-b80a4e6b708f&f=email[/url] or read the transcript here: [url]http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10348418/[/url] Very interesting!

joe on :

chris, Just a background question. What year did you graduate from the War College?

Shawn on :

For the scoop on the Iraqi Army's development: [url=http://www.nationalreview.com/smitht/smitht.asp]The Right Sort of Men[/url] For additional coverage on Iraq and the Middle East context: [url=http://www.threatswatch.org]ThreatsWatch[/url] Speculation: Since the army seems to be a sample of the country as a whole, from this article it seems that the ethnic divisions are overestimated, and unity underestimated--although neither can be ignored. Thus, I presume the success of Iraq will go the way of their army. If the army goes down the toilet due to ethnic divisions, so will the country. If it manages to remain unified, I think it can be expected that the country will too. In the end, however, the Iraqis need a country they can be proud of as a whole. Otherwise, the major ethnic groups will seek to create that on their own--as happened in the Yugoslavia region. The status of the police is more worrying, and will need leadership like what was employed in NYC under Giuliani in order to succeed in the long term. I recommened reading Giuliani's book "Leadership" to understand what I mean.

joe on :

Chris, Do you have an example of a war which was fought that met your standard. As for providing protection to Iraq, is that not what the US is providing for both Europe and Japan today? Of course, if that is not what the US is doing, then might there also be a huge need to discuss whether there is a continuing need for a military organization such as NATO when it could be easily replaced by a European Union Defense Force. BTW the Army is exceeding its intake goals for the first 2 months of FY06

Chris on :

The future of NATO is an item of debate. I am glad that the Army is meeting their goals thus far. I'd like to add a point about retention rates, which you did not mention but other pro-war commentators have. Retention rates are very high now because 1. the bonuses are very high and 2. the Army is pulling people back in through IRR committments. As for a well conducted war, there is never a perfect plan. The highest form of planning is to defeat your enemies and preserve their armies. That would be Sun Tzu's opinion.

howard roberts on :

Howard Roberts A Seven-point plan for an Exit Strategy in Iraq 1) A timetable for the complete withdrawal of American and British forces must be announced. I envision the following procedure, but suitable fine-tuning can be applied by all the people involved. A) A ceasefire should be offered by the Occupying side to representatives of both the Sunni insurgency and the Shiite community. These representatives would be guaranteed safe passage, to any meetings. The individual insurgency groups would designate who would attend. At this meeting a written document declaring a one-month ceasefire, witnessed by a United Nations authority, will be fashioned and eventually signed. This document will be released in full, to all Iraqi newspapers, the foreign press, and the Internet. B) US and British command will make public its withdrawal, within sixth-months of 80 % of their troops. C) Every month, a team of United Nations observers will verify the effectiveness of the ceasefire. All incidences on both sides will be reported. D) Combined representative armed forces of both the Occupying nations and the insurgency organizations that agreed to the cease fire will protect the Iraqi people from actions by terrorist cells. E) Combined representative armed forces from both the Occupying nations and the insurgency organizations will begin creating a new military and police force. Those who served, with out extenuating circumstances, in the previous Iraqi military or police, will be given the first option to serve. F) After the second month of the ceasefire, and thereafter, in increments of 10-20% ,a total of 80% will be withdrawn, to enclaves in Qatar and Bahrain. The governments of these countries will work out a temporary land-lease housing arrangement for these troops. During the time the troops will be in these countries they will not stand down, and can be re-activated in the theater, if both the chain of the command still in Iraq, the newly formed Iraqi military, the leaders of the insurgency, and two international ombudsman (one from the Arab League, one from the United Nations), as a majority, deem it necessary. G) One-half of those troops in enclaves will leave three-months after they arrive, for the United States or other locations, not including Iraq. H) The other half of the troops in enclaves will leave after six-months. I) The remaining 20 % of the Occupying troops will, during this six month interval, be used as peace-keepers, and will work with all the designated organizations, to aid in reconstruction and nation-building. J) After four months they will be moved to enclaves in the above mentioned countries. They will remain, still active, for two month, until their return to the States, Britain and the other involved nations. 2) At the beginning of this period the United States will file a letter with the Secretary General of the Security Council of the United Nations, making null and void all written and proscribed orders by the CPA, under R. Paul Bremer. This will be announced and duly noted. 3) At the beginning of this period all contracts signed by foreign countries will be considered in abeyance until a system of fair bidding, by both Iraqi and foreign countries, will be implemented ,by an interim Productivity and Investment Board, chosen from pertinent sectors of the Iraqi economy. Local representatives of the 18 provinces of Iraq will put this board together, in local elections. 4) At the beginning of this period, the United Nations will declare that Iraq is a sovereign state again, and will be forming a Union of 18 autonomous regions. Each region will, with the help of international experts, and local bureaucrats, do a census as a first step toward the creation of a municipal government for all 18 provinces. After the census, a voting roll will be completed. Any group that gets a list of 15% of the names on this census will be able to nominate a slate of representatives. When all the parties have chosen their slates, a period of one-month will be allowed for campaigning. Then in a popular election the group with the most votes will represent that province. When the voters choose a slate, they will also be asked to choose five individual members of any of the slates. The individuals who have the five highest vote counts will represent a National government. This whole process, in every province, will be watched by international observers as well as the local bureaucrats. During this process of local elections, a central governing board, made up of United Nations, election governing experts, insurgency organizations, US and British peacekeepers, and Arab league representatives, will assume the temporary duties of administering Baghdad, and the central duties of governing. When the ninety representatives are elected they will assume the legislative duties of Iraq for two years. Within three months the parties that have at least 15% of the representatives will nominate candidates for President and Prime Minister. A national wide election for these offices will be held within three months from their nomination. The President and the Vice President and the Prime Minister will choose their cabinet, after the election. 5) All debts accrued by Iraq will be rescheduled to begin payment, on the principal after one year, and on the interest after two years. If Iraq is able to handle another loan during this period she should be given a grace period of two years, from the taking of the loan, to comply with any structural adjustments. 6) The United States and the United Kingdom shall pay Iraq reparations for its invasion in the total of 120 billion dollars over a period of twenty years for damages to its infrastructure. This money can be defrayed as investment, if the return does not exceed 6.5 %. 7) During the beginning period Saddam Hussein and any other prisoners who are deemed by a Council of Iraqi Judges, elected by the National representative body, as having committed crimes will be put up for trial. The trial of Saddam Hussein will be before seven judges, chosen from this Council of Judges. One judge, one jury, again chosen by this Council, will try all other prisoners. All defendants will have the right to present any evidence they want, and to choose freely their own lawyers.

Chris on :

Shawn, I agree with you about the need for a nonsectarian and successful Iraqi army.

Shawn on :

I admire Mr. Roberts` attempt to outline an exit strategy. However, as in business, one must first ask "Can it be executed?" In my opinion, it can not. First, the strategy defines not only broader goals but operation-level tactics that will tie the hands and options of those on the ground. Mr. Roberts allows for "fine-tuning" in the opening of his proposal, but that wouldn't save this strategy from a painful death. What strikes me as unexecutable are the following items: 1. Saying to the Iraqi's after they have elected a 4-year government "Time-out! It's do-over time. All those elections you went through mean nothing. In fact, we are going to do CPA II with the (now highly uncredible) UN running things and bring outside "experts" to tell your local politicians how to operate." We screwed up with the CPA. Why screw up again with a CPA II giving Iraqi's the finger after they have gone to the polls? Not to mention the fact that the UN is given far lower credibility in Iraq than what many think is given to US and British. 2. The portion of insurgents that are even capable of or willing to negotiate for such things as a joint-armed force is, according to estimates on the ground, probably around 35%. The other 65% is going to be doing what? Still assassinating, kidnapping, and killing people while they laugh at the ceasefire. Even Saddam couldn't obey a ceasefire as organized as his criminal enterprise was. 3. Charge the USA and Britain for reparations? And what entity will be enforcing this action? We are already spending hundreds of millions repairing and rebuilding damaged infrastructure. Several other pieces of infrastructure have been sabotaged and damaged by the terrorists and insurgents through IED's and the multitude of weapons they use. These are just the main three points that I find the weakest. The worst is in the CPA-like condescension of coming in and saying "do-over" to Iraqis who are coming along relatively fine themselves. In fact, the ABC poll has confirmed they are pretty dang optimistic for the most part--and their opinion matters most because they have to live with what happens! Personally, I'm endorsing the strategy formally presented by the Bush Administration. I'm more concerned with Syria and Iran. If you look at the nations surrounding Iraq, they are the only two countries who have not outrightly condemned terrorist organizations and taken action to back up any claims of such. Saudia Arabia has backed words with action (although still holes as far as I'm concerned), Kuwait is happy, Jordan is beefing up, and there have been no terrorist events that I've heard of in Turkey lately (crossing my fingers). Just my two, hopefully common, cents. :-)

Howard Roberts on :

Shawn- Thank you for reading my plan. I feel your comments have some validity, given the complexity of my plan. The fine-tuning should be done by all the parties who are implementing my plan. I would be very careful in calling this interim body the final form of a democratic government. The structure for creating this interim government was imposed on the Iraqi people by military advisors, think tanks, and Iraqi exiles. The form of an autonomous federation type democracy would be appealing to the majority of the Iraq'is, including a great many of the insurgents. My plan could be used to re-organize the parties, and delegates, after a comprehensive census, into a state-wide and a federal parlement, that could be chosen from those candidates that are now running for office. They would be assigned to lists and could continue to hold office-if their party affiliation had 15% of the plurality in their repective state. Their serving a two-year term-in a more streamlined parliment would be possible. Then they would be able to run for office , with others, after two years. The government that will arise from today's elections, will be to complicate with the United States and must be streamlined, as my total plan indicates. The insurgents will not be negotiating as an joint-armed force-because their is no indication that the insurgents are organized along these lines, but our probably broken up into nodes of a network, without a center. Representatives of this network will continue to arise-as they have been doing lately-and will be the one's to do the negotiating. Jihadists: who make up about 2 or 3 % of the fighters will be known for what they are, will not be joining in the negotiations, and will be neutralized by the combined forces that will be implemented with my plan. CPA is dead-it will not be ressurrected. Reparations are essential-we inflicted 12 years of onerous sanctions that killed one million people-and invaded a country for no reason and are occupying it against the will of the Iraqi people-it is only right to give them reparations for our mistakes. Reconstruction costs, and it's results have been well below the expectations of the Iraqi's, and is well below the corruption level recntly i Iraq that lead to 9 bilion being stolen. I won't even dignify your backing of Bush's plan with a comment. AS for terrorism I feel that three things lead to it: 1) A lack of liberalization of Arab societies, 2) The corruption and repression of many leaders in the MIddle East, including Ariel Sharon, and 3) State terrorism by the West-against all those who don't comply with their commands. i hope this answers your questions eventhough it does not fit your ideology. Howard

Shawn Beilfuss on :

Yes, we are making arguments based on very different premises. I believe in the goodness of the USA and you seem much more skeptical, to put it diplomatically. But, as I'm sure you are aware, the success of any strategy is in whether it can be realistically executed given internal and external environments in relation to those leading the execution. I would like to know what Iraqi actors you think would currently accept such a strategy, realistically, with evidence based on prior qoutes and actions. In addition, I would like to know what non-Iraqi organizations or entities would ideally execute this strategy. In addition, at which point would you interrupt the current process, whether it's called democratic or not, and how would the current process be dissolved without external, mandatory directives by non-Iraqi entities? What enforcement mechanisms would be used to ensure adherence by both Iraqi representatives and coalition military representatives? And although reparations may be considered ideal (personally, I do think it is valid in terms of rehabiliting legitimate "collateral damage" victims and locales and certain forms of this have been and are occurring, although not as smoothly, quickly and verifiably as preferred), I had asked how you thought this could realistically occur? For example, what you suggest the enforcement mechanisms be? Alternative and optimistic strategies are great, but if they aren't realistically executable, then they lose traction very fast. Admittedly, these are all very difficult questions, but required to be answered thoroughly if your strategy is going to be considered, let alone executable. As a logistics professional, I take such details very seriously. Whether you dignify my acceptance of the Bush Administration's plan with a response or not is irrelevant. It won't make your strategy any more possible.

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