Exit Strategies

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Over at TPMCafe, Anne-Marie Slaughter lays out her “plan” for Iraq, which involves… internationalizing the situation. Hm, where have we heard that before? At any rate, her post is worth reading, and it’s important to stress, as she does, that promoting democracy alone won’t cut it—creating a liberal world order is also quite crucial.

That said, it does seem that bringing in international contractors, making the reconstruction process more transparent, fixing our interrogation practices, all of those things are laudable goals, but don’t quite get at the fundamental problem in Iraq: namely, that there are a wide swath of Sunnis who aren’t happy with the power and status they’ve lost, and believe they can recoup much of that beginning to fight; along with a wide swath of Shia who have no intention of weakening their newly-won majority. That’s not the only problem of course; tensions in Kirkuk between Kurds, Arabs, and Turkomen certainly have the potential to erupt and explode and leave hundreds of thousands dead, but the main source of tension seems to be between the insurgents and the government.

What it would take to sort this out is beyond me. Perhaps “staying the course,” meaning the military would continue to hunt insurgents down, continue to hope that the Sunnis can be drawn into the political process (this is a promising step), and continue to keep building Iraq where and when it can. Have patience, keep their fingers crossed, and hope not too many people die. Another option is a limited withdrawal. The problem is that once the U.S. starts down the path of withdrawing its troops, there’s no turning back if it proves to be a mistake. So unless all the mounting pressure for an exit strategy coming out Congress turns into something significant, then, it looks like the status quo will pretty much be the strategy for a long while.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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