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Kerry on Iraq: time to get tough
Posted by: Jon Henke on Wednesday, April 05, 2006

It will be dismissed casually as "cut and run" defeatism by many, but John Kerry's column calling for an exit from Iraq contains an item worth serious consideration. Leave aside the parts with which you disagree, and consider this point...
As our generals have said, the war cannot be won militarily. It must be won politically. [...] So far, Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines — a deadline to transfer authority to a provisional government, and a deadline to hold three elections.

The Right has long preached the value of incentives and the stultifying damage produced by welfare. It's not a great stretch to apply the same incentive problem to Iraq. Kerry suggests...
Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If Iraqis aren't willing to build a unity government in the five months since the election, they're probably not willing to build one at all. The civil war will only get worse, and we will have no choice anyway but to leave.
Without endorsing the rest of his column, I want to point out that forcing Iraqis to cope with the consequences of their political intractability, of their sectarian struggle for political advantage, is a very legitimate suggestion. Iraq war supporters ought to consider it.

My own preference would be to draw back to the desert, forcing Iraqis to cope with the demands of their emerging society, with US troops available only for support and emergencies.

Kerry concludes with the kind of thing we've been saying for a long time...
For three years now, the administration has told us that terrible things will happen if we get tough with the Iraqis. In fact, terrible things are happening now because we haven't gotten tough enough.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

At the risk of being labelled a "partisan hack" Senator Kerry is a day late and dollar short... that’s what Secretary of State Rice WAS DOING IN IRAQ, recently. Or at least we can hope, so. I really doubt that anyone is going to come right out and say so... after all Iraq is an independent state and its new government aren’t American "puppets" or at least would not wish to be perceived that way. So I suspect that the Administration made clear its impatience and also its preferences for the new government. I’m not sure explicit deadlines are all that good either, any way. Probably better are deadlines like, "By the end of Spring...." a deadline gives power to obstructionists.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Good point, while seemingly a good idea, demands like this are probably better if they are not public.
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
Good point, while seemingly a good idea, demands like this are probably better if they are not public.
It’s also an emerging trend in politics. Politicos get wind of what’s going on behind the scenes (I mean really, why else would Condi Rice be in Iraq?) and put out something which anticipates what is being discussed, put it out as their idea, and then claim credit when it happens (even though they had zip to do with it).

But on the point Jon is making, it’s hard not to agree. The longer the take, the more chance they are risking sectarian violence evolving into civil war. We need to push for a deadline (and my guess is, we are).
Written By: McQ
No, I don’t think this is sufficient incentive to accomplish the purpose. There are plenty of Iraqis that (naively, perhaps) believe they would come out on top in a power struggle if the US were gone, and a threatened pullout would give them incentive to sabotage the process.

Thinking off the top of my head here, a better incentive might be to threaten that if the deadline for a unified government is not met, the US will then support partitioning. I suspect that would be the right incentive for the Sunnis and Shiites to get on with it, though the Kurds might prefer that and thereby lessen their willingness to deal. But I suspect that the Kurds expect a de facto independence anyway if the attempts to form a unified government fail, so it might not change their perspective much. Perhaps another incentive can be that would have the desired effect on them.
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Threaten to send Saddam back if they dont get their stuff together.
Written By: kyle N
How about we not announce a deadline and just stop funneling money in to prop them up.

Then announce, that as soon as they have a unity government formed, we will begin giving aid again.
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
How about stop calling this a "civil war" as if Iraq is a real country, like, say France. Next thing you know you will want to put Tito back in power to reconstruct the mythical "Yugoslavia".

So Sorry. I guess Tito is dead.

Now, if we could just send Kerry to Iran to talk them to death.
Written By: Sharon
URL: http://

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