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29.11.2003 [13:43] Winning the war was the easy bit. But since the fall of Baghdad the news from Iraq has gone from bad to worse: daily attacks on US troops, mounting public hostility to the occupation, no credible government in sight. So how can Britain and America escape the quagmire? And how can we prevent Iraq descending into violent chaos as soon as the troops pull out? We asked eight experts with very different viewpoints for an 'exit strategy' The historian - Paul Kennedy It is difficult for conservatives here in the US not to concede that things have failed to go according to plan in Iraq, but only a few admit that things are a mess. Meanwhile, among the critics of the Bush administration's "forward school" - ranging from retired army generals through Middle East experts to anti-war radicals - there seems little satisfaction at having been proved correct in their forecasts that it would be harder to get out of Iraq than to kick one's way in. The situation in Iraq and, perhaps increasingly in Afghanistan, is too serious for schadenfreude. So, as George Bush and Tony Blair conferred last week, it was hardly surprising that the planned ceremonies were overshadowed not just by the mobs of protesters but also by the urgency of the private discussions about what to do next. The Bush-Blair confab about strategy brought to mind that old tale about the two English gentlemen who had set forth vigorously one morning across the Irish countryside. By mid-afternoon they realised that their maps were faulty and they were well and truly lost. Spotting a peasant at work in his field, they called out: "I say, old chap, how do we get back to Dublin?" The peasant scratched his head thoughtfully and then replied, "Well, if I were you, sirs, I wouldn't start from here." No doubt the man had good grounds for offering that opinion, but the problem for the two walkers was precisely that they had to start from where they were at the time. And so do the Bush and Blair governments with regard to Iraq. As they consider the various options of getting from here to there, they are naturally bombarded with all sorts of ideas from the pundits, with calls from congressmen and MPs for solutions, with urgings from allies, and, above all, with reports from the field, usually conflicting in nature. Amid all the slogans and vogue-words tossed around in this cacophony, one is beginning to drown out the rest: the term is "exit strategy" (as in, how to find one). The sudden return of Paul Bremer, the US-led coalition's chief administrator of Iraq, to Washington, and the announcement of some form of handover to some form of Iraqi authority by June, has intensified the impression that the Bush team, especially, are looking for a way out. It's going to be difficult, politically, to get through the Christmas season (yellow ribbons on trees, families encountering their first Christmas without their father or son, images of soldiers still on patrol in Baghdad on Christmas night); but it may be even more difficult if the US electoral campaign unfolds with the two governments still, metaphorically, a long way from Dublin. One wishes that the term "exit strategy" was not bandied about at all. Although the conservatives deny the comparison, it has deep echoes of Vietnam. Exit strategies from a conflict, such as Napoleon's retreat from Moscow or the British army heading towards Dunkirk, are often desperate, hand-to-mouth affairs, and full of Clausewitzian frictions. They smell of defeat, and defeatism. Most importantly, the open discussion by one side of various ways of making an exit gives a tremendous morale and propaganda boost to the opposition - all they have to do now is to hang on until the terminus date itself, and sharpen their knives. This is particularly true in the present situation, because there is an image abroad, fuelled by memories of Vietnam, Mogadishu and the first Iraq war, that Americans can't stand long and costly wars overseas. Still, some policies are needed to get us out of the Baghdad quagmire. Perhaps the most important notion, of the dozens floating around, is that the steps to recovery cannot follow a rigid Step I, Step II, Step III "road map". Actions have to be taken at various levels simultaneously, in a mutually reinforcing manner, while being realistic enough to understand that progress could be harder at one level and move surprisingly swiftly at another. Several components suggest themselves. First, the recovery of legitimacy, especially through some form of constitutional recognition by the UN security council of what is to happen. I stress "some form" because the world body can be amazingly flexible when it wants. The Iraq Recovery Programme could be under a temporary UN mandate, but the security system itself need not be a formal UN peacekeeping operation run from New York; it might instead be in the hands of a broad US and British-led coalition of member states plus, of course, Iraq's own security forces. Despite sniffs from American neo-conservatives, the placing of the UN's mantle over Iraq has advantages that the State Department and Foreign Office must long for. Internationally, it makes it so much easier for countries such as India, Turkey, Japan, Korea - even Pakistan and Russia - to offer police forces and possibly troops; it takes a lot of pressure off pro-western regimes in the Arab world; and it gives assurances to bodies such as the World Bank and the Red Cross, who have not only worried about the security of their own personnel but also about the propriety of their being in an American-led game at all. Domestically, the UN's imprimatur will boost those Iraqis striving to create a normal society. No doubt, though, in the short term it will increase the attempts of Saddam's gangsters to hurt international forces and their collaborators. This brings us to the second parallel strand: the improvement of personal security, not just for the allied forces but also, and especially, for the Iraqi people. It is difficult to think how this can be done, at least in the short term, without increasing, rather than decreasing, the number of troops on the ground. Forget, for the moment, the exit strategy. Forget the helicopters. Concentrate on house-to-house and street-to- street visitations, as the British army seems to be doing in Basra. Individual units will be attacked, certainly; but a sense of security has never come though airborne raids alone. Over time, the military patrols may become police patrols; over time, they should be carried out increasingly by the Iraqi forces themselves, though with far better training than the one-week wonders that are being recruited right now. The third strand is rebuilding the infrastructure. This is not going to happen because of Congress's recent allocation of $87bn (£51bn), since most of that money goes to pay for American military efforts. It will happen, however, if the international community sees that the Iraqi people have been brought under the aegis of the UN, and that the personnel of the various agencies, NGOs and Iraqi authorities themselves are protected. Around Iraq, in Kuwait, Jordan and elsewhere, these bodies are waiting to go to work. This is why the two requirements listed above need to be in place, because if legitimacy and security are provided without economic, social, educational and infrastructural improvements, they will lose their impact in a short time. Man cannot live on constitutions alone. And this, the fourth component, is the one the Bush administration has touted above all - that is, a constitution for Iraq - but it cannot survive without the other elements. The idea is fine in principle, although there are many scholars more expert than I in this field who feel that Washington's "top-down" approach has much less chance of success than a "bottom-up" strategy. Might it not be better to encourage Iraqi self-government at the local and regional level (with Kurdish, Sunni and Shia districts) before writing a national constitution? As it is now, the present set of council members smells too much, rightly or wrongly, of an American puppet show and a rehash of the Founding Fathers' deliberations There are, I believe, ways to get from here to there. But, above everything else, they involve the end of the hubris and machismo that have prevailed in Washington over the past two years, and the recognition that the road to Dublin goes via the UN and the international community. Above all, it requires less Rumsfeldian "shock and awe" tactics, and much more working with the Iraqi people themselves. Is that totally impossible? © 2003, Tribune Media Services International · Paul Kennedy is Dilworth Professor of History at Yale University. The negotiator - David Owen All this talk in the press of an "exit strategy" over Iraq is misjudged. What is needed is a "staying strategy" to help the vast majority of Iraqis rebuild their country. We are told by the Bush administration that the US military is not planning to cut and run and is confident the new self-governing Iraqi administration will condone a continued though reduced US military presence. Indeed, it is hard to see how that government could survive the Ba'athist insurgency without US and UK military support. George Bush looks a more resolute Republican president than his father after freeing Kuwait, or Ronald Reagan removing US marines from Lebanon, and I hope he will not weaken just because of next November's presidential election. For me, the words "exit strategy" bring back sad memories of when the Clinton administration used the term in exiting from Somalia, not going into Rwanda and for delaying putting troops on the ground in Bosnia-Herzegovina. After the Dayton Accords, President Clinton, to his credit, put US troops into Bosnia, and then fortunately reversed his policy of planning for an early exit and became a strong advocate of Nato staying. US Democrats argued for the Bush Republicans to abandon their electoral rhetoric against nation building and US troops are still in Bosnia today, seven years later. Richard Holbrooke, the architect of the successful Dayton Accords, with Bernard Kouchner, the first UN administrator of Kosovo, are wisely against the EU replacing the UN and Nato as a peacekeeping presence on the ground in Bosnia, believing that the US must stay involved. They are also advocating an early political settlement involving independence for Kosovo. It is not an incompatible strategy to argue for continued military support while speeding up self-government and independence. Administration by occupying powers is not sustainable for long. It would help in Iraq if, as in Afghanistan, a UN special representative could now play a key role in preparing for self- government, in the same way that Lakhdar Brahimi did in Kabul. How the Iraqi people miss the skills and sensitivity of the late UN representative Sergio Vieira de Mello, tragically blown up by Saddam Hussein's insurgents. The UN could be a real help to Paul Bremer, the US administrator for Iraq, in forming the provisional government by July 1 next year. Despite the withdrawal of UN personnel, I hope Kofi Annan will consider the appointment of another representative soon. I hope, too, that Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British representative, will be treated by Bremer as a key figure in establishing the provisional government. This is the area on which Tony Blair should insist with George Bush for co-ownership of the proposals for a provisional government which must be more representative and include tribal leaders. It is not now possible to draft and ratify a permanent new Iraqi constitution before we need to assemble the provisional government. We should still aim, however, to establish by July a Heads of Agreement on a Constitution, and this must include a commitment to a highly decentralised form of government, almost certainly a federal one. Unlike in the 1920s, the world cannot this time escape its commitment to Kurdish people; realpolitik dictates at the very least the amount of autonomy for the Kurds that they have experienced for the past 10 years under the air-power protection of the no-fly zone imposed by the US and the UK with, initially, the French. What is happening in Iraq is not the same as in Vietnam in any particular way, except perhaps for the anti-war protest movement in the US, which may grow if there is a build-up of American casualties. For this reason it is important that, well before July, the US military policing activity on the streets is taken over by Iraqi military and police forces. The US military is poor in this role - with a few exceptions, such as the US 82nd Airborne Division on the eastern border with Syria and Jordan. Where the US and British military have a crucial continuing role is to track down and defeat the insurgents who are clearly operat ing under an Iraqi strategy planned before their defeat by some skilled people wholly committed to continuing down the path of Saddam. Failure to anticipate this represents one more Washington and London intelligence and planning blunder for the aftermath of regime change. There surely cannot be any question of removing our armed forces while Saddam remains at large. Fortunately, in the US it is the powerful neo-conservative lobby who have turned themselves into nation builders and who want Nato involved militarily, and who are not prepared to contemplate defeat or to abandon their commitment to a democratic Iraq. Sadly, the Democrats look as if they will campaign against the war in Iraq but, one hopes, majority opinion will stay firm. They know Iraq is already a far better place following the removal of Saddam. Second, Bush is the first US president to recognise that we have all been far too complacent about the Middle East's undemocratic Arab governments. Third, Bush believes - and I think he is right - that we will not obtain peace in the Middle East unless there is a democratic Palestinian state to take its rightful place alongside Israel. Success for the US and UK policies in Iraq will produce major reforms in the Middle East and create the climate for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. If the US and UK fail in Iraq it will further destabilise a Middle East where Saudi Arabia is looking very vulnerable and do immense harm to the cause of peace in Palestine and in Israel. · Lord Owen was Labour foreign secretary from 1977 to 1979 and was an EU peace envoy during the 1992 Bosnia conflict. The Iraqi - Mustafa Alrawi If the coalition really wants to make a smooth exit from a democratic and free Iraq in the next two years, it must first speed up the transfer of power to an elected government. It can do this by drawing up a constitution immediately, based on current Iraqi law. Second, it must commission one of the many companies it has undertaking surveys in the country to carry out a census. Finally, it should set a specific date in 2004 for elections, to be monitored by an independent international committee. But the coalition has been hampered by its own mistakes. First, the disbandment of the army; second, the policy of de-Ba'athification; and third, above all, the creation of the governing council (GC). This unrepresentative, power-hungry and reactionary body has done a great deal to hold back political progress in Iraq. Despite plans of a handover and subsequent elections, the GC is not ready to give up its claims on the reins of. If there were elections tomorrow, at best no more than half the GC would be in any representative government. But if the coalition is going to make a success of its venture in Iraq, it has to bite the bullet and let the chips fall where they may. The coalition's fear of appearing to be an occupying and colonialist force has allowed that fear to manifest itself: in Baghdad, no one speaks of liberation - it is an occupation, if not still a war, in the minds of most Iraqis. The GC was supposed to be a symbol of the liberation from Saddam and a temporary remedy for the absence of an Iraqi government. But the GC has no mandate. Its ministers are unaccountable to the GC and the people alike. The GC reveals its undemocratic credentials by banning TV networks from Iraq. The people can see this and realise that the GC represents the old regime more than it does the future of Iraq. If the coalition were to disband the GC tomorrow and scrap plans for another interim body - which is likely to become no more than a "GC redux" - and instead implement elections, real progress could be made. The current, fast-deteriorating situation demands a bold move, akin to the confident plan to invade Iraq. Even though the creation of a democratic government will not guarantee an end to the attacks on coalition forces, the lack of representation at the highest level - particularly in urban areas, where the tribal structure is not prevalent - means that if an Iraqi has a grievance he has nowhere to turn. Neither a constitution nor elections are likely to be perfect, but they would at least be legitimate. Fears over security are unfounded. The coalition proved with its successful money changeover that it is able to plan and execute a nationwide security operation to protect sites and locations during a limited period. Iraqis are thirsting for a chance to participate, and the creation of the GC prevented this. In Baghdad, there are peaceful daily demonstrations outside coalition locations, proving that the population is ready. Such protests are never outside Iraqi institutions because the protesters know who is really running Iraq - and it is not the GC. It is time for the coalition to prove it will hand over power. Only actions can rescue this depressing spiral towards the breakdown of order. Baghdad has become a city besieged by fear. Coalition locations such as the "green zone" - Iraq's governmental institutions and the capital's hotels - have been reduced to sandbagged fortresses behind miles of concrete blocks. The traffic is unbearable, probably losing the faltering economy millions of dinars a day. And the stream of bombings, by insurgents and coalition forces alike, has picked up speed. If an elected government were in place, it would probably ask the coalition to stay to help anyway. No fledgling Iraqi government could run the country in its first few years without the presence of the coalition. But the onus of responsibility for the country's security and progress would be in the hands of Iraqis. However, in this scenario the coalition would be able to reduce the number of troops on the ground, thereby fulfilling its promises to the Iraqi people while also beginning the changeover to a functioning, democratic Iraq. The creation of a middleman, in the shape of the GC, prevents democracy taking shape. It implies that a foreign occupier can choose the best leaders for the local population and that Iraqis are not ready to make democracy work. It is true that Iraqis wanted Saddam removed; but they did not want his regime replaced by a mix of the coalition and the GC. The perpetrators of the attacks in Iraq have the luxury of battling a foreign power and a group of unrepresentative people. The nature of the conflict in Iraq would be significantly changed by the existence of an elected government, with a mandate, serving the people. It would be harder for the attackers to justify their cause in such environment. The people would have ownership of the political process and so would resent anyone who wished to upset it. · Mustafa Alrawi is managing editor of Iraq Today. The Washington insider - James Rubin Regardless of one's view about the wisdom of invading Iraq in the first place, it is crucial that the United States and Britain finish what they started. A premature withdrawal from Iraq would not only harm America's credibility, but would send absolutely the wrong message to the Iraqi people and the world. It would embolden the foreign terrorists who have come into Iraq in some misguided "jihad" against American forces. It would also mean abandonment of the Iraqi people who have known only either decades of Saddam Hussein's tyranny or too many months of chaos and instability since the American military intervention. Clearly, the Bush administration failed in its responsibility to plan for success. Everyone knew that the American military would defeat the Iraqi army. The hard question was: What happens next? Too many in the Bush administration developed a bad case of wishful thinking. They believed that the Iraqi exiles would waltz back into Iraq and be regarded as legitimate leaders. They believed that the Iraqi regular army and police forces would quickly provide stability and security to the country. They believed that Iraqi oil would make the task of reconstruction self-financing. And they imagined that American forces would be regarded as an army of "liberation" as were the soldiers who triumphantly entered France in 1944. It is the British and American forces on the ground who are suffering from these naive miscalculations. There were adequate warnings that after Saddam fell chaos would ensue. The American state department provided an extensive report to the department of defence detailing precisely the kind of chaos, looting and societal breakdown that has transpired. With conditions in Iraq deteriorating, there are three fundamental decisions that need to be made. First, what kind of role should the international community play? Second, what is the right force mix needed to defeat the growing insurgency? And third, how quickly should sovereignty return to a provisional Iraqi government? Providing the right answers to these questions would allow, over time, for a steady reduction in the size of outside forces deployed in Iraq. The end-state we are seeking is that a new Iraqi government is strong enough to provide stability in the country without relying heavily on outside forces and without threatening its neighbours, that some form of representative government has taken root, and that the country will not become a breeding ground for al-Qaida. The first step is to end the American monopoly over reconstruction and security. We should look to the Bosnia experience as a model. That means a new international authority for Iraq with real decision- making for our European allies and Arab countries prepared to play a role in building a new Iraq. Then, a European - somebody like Bernard Kouchner [former head of the United Nations mission in Kosovo] or Paddy Ashdown - should be given administrative power. Under those conditions, it is reasonable to expect a new attitude from our allies in terms of troop contributions and reconstruction assistance. America has shown its generosity in the form of approving $18bn for reconstructing Iraq. By sharing decision-making powers other countries should be prepared to do far more than they have pledged so far in terms of assistance and should be prepared to consider a major role for Nato in providing security. Next, sovereignty should be transferred to a provisional Iraqi government in a matter of weeks. There are dozens of elected regional councils now, who should help select a provisional government, including members of the current Iraqi governing council. Such a step would give Iraqis a greater stake in success. The international administrator would work with the provisional government and have veto power similar to that which Ashdown now exercises in Bosnia. The Bush administration has moved in this direction in recent weeks, but their proposal of waiting until next June is still too long. The window for defeating the insurgency before it begins to develop more and more support among the Iraqi people is closing. Finally, we need to change the mix of America's forces. Right now, more than 1,000 of the best US intelligence specialists and linguists are focused exclusively on the seemingly fruitless task of uncovering Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The UN inspectors who have not been asked to return are far more experienced at this task and could be quickly assembled and deployed. That would free American intelligence assets to find the sources of the counter-insurgency that has been killing US soldiers, Iraqis, aid workers, UN workers, and allied personnel in brutal terrorist attacks. The current American force should be transformed from heavy units with long and vulnerable logistical supply lines to lighter units, including more special forces and more units that can operate in the way that the British forces are operating in Southern Iraq. If we choose this path, it should be possible to stabilise Iraq and more quickly isolate those Saddam loyalists and outside foreign forces who are destroying the Iraqi people's first real chance to establish a representative government. If we achieve this objective in the next several months, then after a new constitution is made, the first freely elected government is chosen (probably in 2005) and a substantial Iraqi military and police force is restored (also in 2005), it may be possible to reduce the outside forces from America and other Nato countries to a minimum presence. But even in this optimistic scenario, some international security presence, including American forces, may well be necessary in Iraq for many years to come. On the other hand, if the Bush administration continues to "stay the course", as the president insists, the situation in Iraq may continue to deteriorate and some far more painful paths - an early exit with a premature handover to Iraqi forces or a substantial escalation - could be chosen. · James Rubin was the state department spokesman under President Clinton and senior adviser to secretary of state Madeleine Albright between 1993-2000. ????????: Guardian, UK Mark Parkinson Bodmin Cornwall _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk