In the Washington Post yesterday, Dana Milbank wrote, “Political Washington is in a state of suspended animation these days…leaders of both parties seem unable to do much more than heap blame on Maliki and argue about whether or not to call the Iraq carnage a civil war.”
Actually, that depends on which “leaders” Milbank is referring to.
There are detailed withdrawal plans available for consideration. Each one provides a framework for finding a way out of this disaster that has disintegrated into a humanitarian catastrophe. The Congressional Progressive Caucus – the largest caucus in Congress – met last week with George McGovern, co-author of the 142-page Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now. Written with former history professor and State Department Middle East expert, William R. Polk, the book calls for a withdrawal to be completed over approximately seven months with a subsequent massive reconstruction effort led by Iraqis and largely funded by the United States (at a far cheaper cost than maintaining the occupation).
On why he wrote the book, McGovern told the Washington Post: “I found that lots of thoughtful people had come to the conclusion that the war was a mistake, but they would say now that we are there, we can’t pull out. It’s the same argument I combated for 15 years during the Vietnam War….We concluded that instead of reducing terrorism, the [Iraq] war was aggravating it — that we were in a more dangerous position with regard to Iraq and other countries as a consequence of the invasion…. [Polk] found that top people in the military don’t think this war can be won…How do you end this? You begin to plan a systematic withdrawal. We’re not talking about a stampede for the border – none of this silly business of cut and run.”
McGovern and Polk advocate for an international peacekeeping force drawn from “Arab or at least Muslim countries.” They write that the United States could fund such a force for two years at approximately two percent of the cost of continuing the war over the same time period. The plan describes the need for an immediate cessation of work on US military bases – which the authors say are “growing in size” and are “being given aspects of permanency.”