How to cut and run

Redhots

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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.

The administration could recognize that a rapid withdrawal is the only way to overcome our strategic paralysis, though that appears unlikely, notwithstanding election-eve changes in White House rhetoric. Congress could force a stock-taking. Failing this, the public will sooner or later see through all of the White House's double talk and compel a radical policy change. The price for delay, however, will be more lives lost in vain — the only thing worse than the lives already lost in vain.

Some lawmakers are ready to change course but are puzzled as to how to leave Iraq. The answer is four major initiatives to provide regional stability and calm in Iraq. They will leave the U.S. less influential in the region. But it will be the best deal we can get.

First, the U.S. must concede that it has botched things, cannot stabilize the region alone and must let others have a say in what's next. As U.S. forces begin to withdraw, Washington must invite its European allies, as well as Japan, China and India, to make their own proposals for dealing with the aftermath. Russia can be ignored because it will play a spoiler role in any case.

Rapid troop withdrawal and abandoning unilateralism will have a sobering effect on all interested parties. Al Qaeda will celebrate but find that its only current allies, Iraqi Baathists and Sunnis, no longer need or want it. Iran will crow but soon begin to worry that its Kurdish minority may want to join Iraqi Kurdistan and that Iraqi Baathists might make a surprising comeback.

Although European leaders will probably try to take the lead in designing a new strategy for Iraq, they will not be able to implement it. This is because they will not allow any single European state to lead, the handicap they faced in trying to cope with Yugoslavia's breakup in the 1990s. Nor will Japan, China or India be acceptable as a new coalition leader. The U.S. could end up as the leader of a new strategic coalition — but only if most other states recognize this fact and invite it to do so.

The second initiative is to create a diplomatic forum for Iraq's neighbors. Iran, of course, must be included. Washington should offer to convene the forum but be prepared to step aside if other members insist.

Third, the U.S. must informally cooperate with Iran in areas of shared interests. Nothing else could so improve our position in the Middle East. The price for success will include dropping U.S. resistance to Iran's nuclear weapons program. This will be as distasteful for U.S. leaders as cutting and running, but it is no less essential. That's because we do share vital common interests with Iran. We both want to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban (Iran hates both). We both want stability in Iraq (Iran will have influence over the Shiite Iraqi south regardless of what we do, but neither Washington nor Tehran want chaos). And we can help each other when it comes to oil: Iran needs our technology to produce more oil, and we simply need more oil.

Accepting Iran's nuclear weapons is a small price to pay for the likely benefits. Moreover, its nuclear program will proceed whether we like it or not. Accepting it might well soften Iran's support for Hezbollah, and it will definitely undercut Russia's pernicious influence with Tehran.

Fourth, real progress must be made on the Palestinian issue as a foundation for Middle East peace. The invasion of Iraq and the U.S. tilt toward Israel have dangerously reduced Washington's power to broker peace or to guarantee Israel's security. We now need Europe's help. And good relations with Iran would help dramatically.

No strategy can succeed without these components. We must cut and run tactically in order to succeed strategically. The United States needs to restore its reputation so that its capacity to lead constructively will cost us less.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-odom31oct31,0,6123563.story?coll=la-opinion-center
 

CSM

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Well, more appeasement and surrender from the wrong coast...what a surprise!
 

manu1959

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Well, more appeasement and surrender from the wrong coast...what a surprise!
kerry knows how to cut and run....just ask the swift boat vets.....or congress when he testifed that he was a war criminal....
 
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Redhots

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Well, more appeasement and surrender from the wrong coast...what a surprise!
Your solution is what exactly again?

Or do you think everything is going OK more or less?
 

1549

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Well, more appeasement and surrender from the wrong coast...what a surprise!
Note that the article was printed by the L.A. Times, but written by a Yale professor. Which coast is wrong?
 

Bullypulpit

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Well golly, Chimpy was awfully cut-and-runny in Afghanistan, where the REAL threat to America originated. And "Stay-the-course" is just getting our troops knocked over like ducks at a shooting gallery in Iraq, with no end in sight.
 

CSM

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Your solution is what exactly again?

Or do you think everything is going OK more or less?
Actually, I think that if we as a nation persevere, instead of giving up because "it's too hard and nobody likes us" then things will be fine.
 

CSM

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I notice that you left off the Lt. Gen. (RET) part. Loser.
Yeah, he is a prime example of the "political generals" that were/are so prevalent after VietNam. The PC environment made guys like him promotable and left warriors out of the process. If you read Odom's bio, he was a staff weenie...and while he did serve and should be respected for that, I am not so sure his tactical expertise is above reproach.
 

CSM

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Note that the article was printed by the L.A. Times, but written by a Yale professor. Which coast is wrong?
Why, the one with the terrorist propaganda rag of course (LA Times!!!). Not impressed with the "Yale professor" (nor even the ret. Gen.) part either.
 

MGB

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written by a Yale professor.

There seems to be more than a bit of anti-intellectual bias in that comment.

I'm new here, so feel free to ignore me, but Gen. Odom's suggestions parallel closely with my own views of how to end this thing. Rather than being a strategy of being "too hard" for the left leaning weenies like me, it is actually a bold plan to take the situation as it is and deal with it, leaving ego and pride aside in order to accomplish a measure of success from what is now a cesspool of miserable failure. Only a foolish general sends his men into battle knowing that the objective is unobtainable and the soldiers he commands are, at this point, little more than cannon fodder for some misguided cause that is illusory.

It takes MORE courage to admit defeat and start over than it does to continue banging your head aganst the wall in hopes that the wall will fall down. The latter is surely a symptom of mental illness with little to recommend it to intelligent people and nothing to be admired about it.

Most people know that the path to success is to have a plan, implement the plan, notice if the plan is working, adjust the plan, work the plan, notice if the plan is working, adjust the plan, and so forth. Only a committed and determined fool refuses to adjust the plan.

(Trob will be along shortly to point out several reason why I ought to be committed.)
 

Stephanie

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I think part of the right-wing kerfuffle over Kerry's remark has less to do with it being a botched joke at Chimpy's expense and more to do with it being what they (the right wing) actually think about the troops in Iraq.
Yea sure.....:rolleyes:
 

CSM

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I think part of the right-wing kerfuffle over Kerry's remark has less to do with it being a botched joke at Chimpy's expense and more to do with it being what they (the right wing) actually think about the troops in Iraq.
Aw cmon Bully, that's a real stretch, even for you.
 

CSM

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written by a Yale professor.

There seems to be more than a bit of anti-intellectual bias in that comment.

I'm new here, so feel free to ignore me, but Gen. Odom's suggestions parallel closely with my own views of how to end this thing. Rather than being a strategy of being "too hard" for the left leaning weenies like me, it is actually a bold plan to take the situation as it is and deal with it, leaving ego and pride aside in order to accomplish a measure of success from what is now a cesspool of miserable failure. Only a foolish general sends his men into battle knowing that the objective is unobtainable and the soldiers he commands are, at this point, little more than cannon fodder for some misguided cause that is illusory.

It takes MORE courage to admit defeat and start over than it does to continue banging your head aganst the wall in hopes that the wall will fall down. The latter is surely a symptom of mental illness with little to recommend it to intelligent people and nothing to be admired about it.

Most people know that the path to success is to have a plan, implement the plan, notice if the plan is working, adjust the plan, work the plan, notice if the plan is working, adjust the plan, and so forth. Only a committed and determined fool refuses to adjust the plan.

(Trob will be along shortly to point out several reason why I ought to be committed.)
Your assessment depicting things as "a cesspool of miserable failure" is really subjective...I can see why you rationalize it as you do. Also, your prioritization of levels of courage is about what I expect from a lib as well. The other stuff about insanity is pure misdirection.

When it is all boiled down, you advocate appeasement and surrender, pure and simple. Add to that "the US is wrong and should apologize" mentality and it seems we have another one in our midsts.
 

trobinett

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MG posts:

It takes MORE courage to admit defeat and start over than it does to continue banging your head aganst the wall in hopes that the wall will fall down. The latter is surely a symptom of mental illness with little to recommend it to intelligent people and nothing to be admired about it.
MG you old fox. I like the way this paragraph reads, real smooth, and under different circumstances would agree with you.

However, and now listen closely, WE AREN'T FACING DEFEAT in Iraq, and why would we want to "start over again"?

The only one's advocating admitting defeat, are the "cut, and run" crowd, those that want to appease those that CAN'T be appeased.

I know in your heart, you aren't the type that would give up on a challenge, or appease those that have brought death and destruction to your countrymen.:usa:
 

trobinett

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Aren't winning either...

For anybody, that cares to open their eye's, and unplug their ears, we've accomplished EXACTLY what we set out to accomplish.

Let's review shall we. We occupy Iraq for several reasons, one, to disrupt, and interdict the ability of terrorist organizations to train, and supply. I'd say we've accomplished that quite well. Two, to wear down the ability, and will to fight of terrorist, again, we've been doing the job. And three, to kill the leadership of terrorist cells, also have been very successful at that too.

So, I'd say we are winning, and doing it on all front's, except the HOME FRONT, and that is the fault of the "left", NOT the policy of this administration, or the failure of our military.
 

MGB

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we have another one in our midsts.


And not a moment too soon, apparently! :shocked1:

In the interests of full disclosure, trobinett and I know each other from another forum, which I will refrain from mentioning to avoid the appearance of shilling for another site. He is one of the folks who invited me over here. While we occupy opposite ends of the same spectrum, we are nevertheless friends and I give his posts due respect (no matter how hard that is sometimes) and he accords me the same consideration.

I happen to believe that the best of all possible results occurs when all voices are heard and given a respectful hearing. Upon initial review, it seems that policy is NOT shared by a large percentage of folks here.

But I am planning on changing that! ;)
 

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