Monday, May 03, 2004

Looking for solutions

Having recently come to the conclusion that sticking it out in Iraq (because of the "you break it, you bought it" rule) is no longer tenable (because our continued presence in Iraq is the single biggest obstacle to resolving the situation in Iraq) the question then becomes: what other way do we solve this problem?

Harold Meyerson offers an interesting commentary on this issue as it relates to John Kerry's political campaign. The short of it is that Kerry is in a bind as long as he continues to maintain that the U.S. can solve the problem of keeping a single unified Iraq together through sheer force of will (and increased military presence). Policy wise it just won't work anymore as the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is a fertile field for increased bloodshed and for growing more ill-will against the United States in the Middle East. But politically it doesn't work either because the American people are quickly heading towards a "bring them home now" state of mind which will rebel against any belated attempt to stabilize Iraq through increased military force (that might have worked right after the fall of Saddam, but not now).

Meyerson uses an essay by Peter Galbraith in the New York Review of Books as the launching point for this discussion. As Meyerson explains it, Galbraith's proposal is that the three ethnic regions of Iraq (Kurdish North, Sunni Middle, Shiite South) be allowed a measure of autonomous rule but that they continue to operate under an umbrella organization for handling international relations. More of a loose confederation than a strong union. It's a proposal that is radical enough to perhaps break the gridlock of policy paralysis we currently face without being so radical as to stoke fears of an independent Kurdish or Shiite nation at the heart of the Middle East.

I'm certainly not trained enough in foreign policy to judge the rightness of this proposal. But politically I think it is something worth considering as the current policy options available to Kerry will provide little opportunity for him to distinguish himself from Bush ("I'm going to do what he wants to do, but I'm going to do it right!") and plenty of opportunity for political attack ("Kerry wants to (appease terrorists by reducing forces)/(put more of your sons and daughters in danger by increasing forces).")


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