Saturday, November 18, 2006

A plan for Iraq

Summarized here:

The McGovern-Polk Plan Summary and Highlights

1. Staying in Iraq is not an option. Withdrawal is not only a political imperative but also a strategic requirement. Withdrawal is not without cost (neither is staying), but it is also inevitable and we will pay costs at some point. The decision to withdraw soon will not require additional expenditures ­ on the contrary it will effect massive savings. We are not advocating "cut and run" we are urging an orderly withdrawal on a reasonable schedule that will prevent further damage to U.S. interests.

2. The Iraq government would be wise to request the short-term services of an international force to police the country during and immediately after the period of American withdrawal. Such a force should be temporary with a firm date fixed in advance for withdrawal. Our estimate is that such a force would be needed for two years during this period the force would be slowly but steadily cut back. It's focus should be limited to public security. Such a force would be most acceptable if its composition were drawn from Arab or at least Muslim countries, as suggested by Brent Scowcoft in a Washington Post column of January 16, 2006.

3. During the period of withdrawal if the Iraqi government requests U.S. assistance the U.S. should do all it reasonably can to assit it in embodying and training a permanent national police force. Once the American troops are withdrawn, the Iraqi public is unlikely to continue to support the insurgents, so the level of combat is almost certain to fall. This has been the experience in every comparable guerilla war. The American withdrawal plan should include a provision of $1 billion to help the Iraq government create, train, and equip such a force ­ the cost of four days of the American occupation.

4. America should immediately release all prisoners of war it holds and close detention centers. Physical control of former members of the Iraqi regime who have been indicted by the Iraqi government should be made to the Iraqi government. A respected nongovernmental organization should be appointed to process claims of and pay compensation to those who have been tortured as defined by the Geneva Convention.

5. America should not encourage the growth and heavy armament of a reconstituted Iraqi army as such have frequently acted against civil governments and Iraqi citizens. The U.S. should encourage the transfer of soldiers it has already recruited to a national police force or to a national reconstruction corps. The U.S. should commit to an allocation of $500 million, the cost of two days occupation, for the training of a national reconstruction corps.

6. Withdrawal of U.S. forces must include immediate cessation of work on U.S. military bases. Fourteen so-called "enduring bases" are under construction and five are already built ­ massive bases amounting to virtual cities.

7. Americans should withdraw from the Green Zone, their vast sprawling complex in the center of Baghdad. The U.S. is spending $1 billion on its headquarters in the Green Zone, which contains or will contain some three hundred homes, Marine barracks and 21 other buildings along with its own electrical, water and sewage systems. This should be turned over to the Iraqi government.

8. Before the turnover the U.S. should buy, rent or build a "normal" embassy for a much-reduced complement of U.S. officials. This should be outside of the Green Zone so it is symbolically not part of the occupation.

9. Mercenaries (euphemistically known as Personal Security Detail) now amount to 25,000 armed men ­ a force larger than the British troop contingent ­ hired directly or indirectly by the U.S. government. They must be withdrawn rapidly and completely. The way to withdraw them is simple ­ stop the payments we make to them.

10. The U.S. must assist in digging up and destroying the land mines and unexploded ordinance and clean-up the depleted uranium in artillery shells and their targets. Much of this work should be turned over to Iraqi contractors in order to employ Iraqis but it does require professional training. The U.S. should make available a fund of $250 million ­ one day's occupation ­ to assist in the survey and planning the removal.

11. Rebuilding should be, and can be, done by Iraqis, alleviating the socially crippling rate of unemployment. The U.S. should make a generous contribution to this effort in the form of grants and loans through the Iraqi government. This will also increase the power of the government. The U.S. should also allocate funds for survey, planning and organization of the rebuilding of the Iraq economy ­ a sum of $1 billion (four days of wartime expenditures). After this survey the U.S. and Great Britain should determine in consultation with the Iraqi government what it is willing to pay for. Parallel to reconstruction should be the demolition of the ugly monuments of warfare, i.e. dismantling and disposing of miles of concrete blast walls and wire barriers erected around American installations. Further U.S. destruction of Iraqi cultural sites, including building military installations on top of them, needs to be corrected and a fund of $250 million (one day of war) should be made available to assist in the restoration of these sites. Rebuilding should also include civic institutions where the U.S. should provide fellowships for the training of lawyers, judges, journalists, and a variety of nongovernmental social workers. This should cost $500 million (two days cost of war). Many skilled Iraqis have left their country and the U.S. should assist in encouraging their return, another $500 million should be provided for this effort.

12. An independent accounting of Iraqi funds is urgently required. This will cost approximately $100 million. If funds were misappropriated or misused they should be repaid.

13. The U.S. should make reparations to Iraqi civilians for loss of lives and property it caused. The British have already begun to do so in their zone. The U.S. already authorizes individual military units to make condolence payment of up to $2,500. This amount compares to $400,000 paid to beneficiaries of an American military casualty. If the number of unjustified deaths is 50,000 and compensation is $10,000 per person the probable total allocation would be approximately $500 million. If the number of those incapacitated is between 15,000 and 25,000 (the best we can make) and the same payment is made the total cost would be about $200 million.

14. The U.S. should not object to the Iraqi government voiding all contracts for petroleum exploration, development, and marketing made during the American occupation, so these can be renegotiated or thrown open to fair bidding.

15. The U.S. should encourage with large-scale assistance various UN agencies ­ including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Food Program and the Food and Agricultural Organization ­ as well as nongovernmental organizations to help reconstitute organizations to help reconstitute the Iraqi public health system. While this is a massive undertaking the total cost of such rebuilding would only amount to eight days of the occupation, about $1.7 billion.

16. Finally, America should express its condolences for the large number of Iraqis killed, incapacitated, incarcerated, and/or tortured. A simple gesture of conciliation would go far to shift our relationship from occupation to friendship. It is a gesture without cost but with immense value.

Monday, November 06, 2006

More on the sentencing of Saddam Hussein

A politically astute Slovene acquaintance responded thusly to Craig Murray's wish that Saddam Hussein had been tried at the Hague:
But trial at the Hague was of course impossible. The US-appointed judiciary had to work hard to find the one Hussein crime that the US (probably) was not involved in. All his considerably more serious offenses - starting with his first murder (attempted assassination of president Abdul Karim Qassem, in which Hussein personally fired shots that killed his driver - the attempt was of course organized by the CIA), through the Halabja affair (accomplished with poison produced with know-how and equipment from the USA), to the bloody crushing of the Shia rebellion in the south in 1991 (when the USA obligingly allowed the Republican Guard to pass through US lines, and ignored Iraqi helicopters flying into the Basra area, and prevented Shia insurgents from getting weapons from Iraqi army depots in the south) - all were accomplished with considerable US support or at least a green light. The problem with war crimes and crimes against humanity is that anybody who was in position to prevent them but didn't can be charged with aiding and abetting.

Interestingly, if they actually hang him, it will be an extra-judicial killing, that is, murder, attributable to the US of A. According to the Hague Protocol and the Geneva Convention, any government set up by or with consent of the occupying force is a puppet government, and it has no legitimacy: the occupying force bears full responsibility for anything that a puppet government does.

Wouldn't that be the ultimate irony: Dubya charged with the murder of Saddam Hussein?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

And in other election campaign news...

...former U.S. ally and CIA asset is sentenced to death by hanging for crimes againts humanity.

Will Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and accomplices be in the dock next?

Riverbend comments. As does Craig Murray.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Okay, now I understand how it works

American midterm elections: a primer

This educational video was produced in 2002, but the process is pretty much the same in 2006. (h/t to commenter marquer at Hullabaloo)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This guy also gets it

How to cut and run
We could lead the Mideast to peace, but only if we stop refusing to do the right thing
By William E. Odom
Lt. Gen. WILLIAM E. ODOM (Ret.) is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University.

October 31, 2006

THE UNITED STATES upset the regional balance in the Middle East when it invaded Iraq. Restoring it requires bold initiatives, but "cutting and running" must precede them all. Only a complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops — within six months and with no preconditions — can break the paralysis that now enfeebles our diplomacy. And the greatest obstacles to cutting and running are the psychological inhibitions of our leaders and the public.

Our leaders do not act because their reputations are at stake. The public does not force them to act because it is blinded by the president's conjured set of illusions: that we are reducing terrorism by fighting in Iraq; creating democracy there; preventing the spread of nuclear weapons; making Israel more secure; not allowing our fallen soldiers to have died in vain; and others.

But reality can no longer be avoided. It is beyond U.S. power to prevent bloody sectarian violence in Iraq, the growing influence of Iran throughout the region, the probable spread of Sunni-Shiite strife to neighboring Arab states, the eventual rise to power of the anti-American cleric Muqtada Sadr or some other anti-American leader in Baghdad, and the spread of instability beyond Iraq. All of these things and more became unavoidable the day that U.S. forces invaded.

These realities get worse every day that our forces remain in Iraq. They can't be wished away by clever diplomacy or by leaving our forces in Iraq for several more years.

Read the rest here. Sober analyis and sound advice from the guy who also said, more than two years ago, "I'm not sure I want to help the administration move on. I'd rather impeach them."

Will the Democrats listen, or do anything to solve the problems should they gain control of one or both houses of Congress next week? Of course not. They won't cut off funding for the war, and they won't impeach the war criminals who launched it.