[FoRK] Article from the Chicago Sun-Times

Joseph S. Barrera III joe at barrera.org
Mon Sep 20 19:46:42 PDT 2004


geege4 at bellsouth.net wrote:

 > The following article from the Chicago Sun-Times has been forwarded 
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 >
 > Comments from the sender: That's incredible.
 > http://www.suntimes.com/output/novak/cst-edt-novak20.html

BY ROBERT NOVAK SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST

Inside the Bush administration policymaking apparatus, there is strong 
feeling that U.S. troops must leave Iraq next year. This determination 
is not predicated on success in implanting Iraqi democracy and internal 
stability. Rather, the officials are saying: Ready or not, here we go.

This prospective policy is based on Iraq's national elections in late 
January, but not predicated on ending the insurgency or reaching a 
national political settlement. Getting out of Iraq would end the 
neoconservative dream of building democracy in the Arab world. The 
United States would be content having saved the world from Saddam 
Hussein's quest for weapons of mass destruction.

The reality of hard decisions ahead is obscured by blather on both sides 
in a presidential campaign. Six weeks before the election, Bush cannot 
be expected to admit even the possibility of a quick withdrawal. Sen. 
John Kerry's political aides, still languishing in fantastic speculation 
about European troops to the rescue, do not even ponder a quick exit. 
But Kerry supporters with foreign policy experience speculate that if 
elected, their candidate would take the same escape route.

Whether Bush or Kerry is elected, the president or president-elect will 
have to sit down immediately with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The 
military will tell the election winner there are insufficient U.S. 
forces in Iraq to wage effective war. That leaves three realistic 
options: Increase overall U.S. military strength to reinforce Iraq, stay 
with the present strength to continue the war, or get out.

Well-placed sources in the administration are confident Bush's decision 
will be to get out. They believe that is the recommendation of his 
national security team and would be the recommendation of second-term 
officials. An informed guess might have Condoleezza Rice as secretary of 
state, Paul Wolfowitz as defense secretary and Stephen Hadley as 
national security adviser. According to my sources, all would opt for a 
withdrawal.

Getting out now would not end expensive U.S. reconstruction of Iraq, and 
certainly would not stop the fighting. Without U.S. troops, the civil 
war cited as the worst-case outcome by the recently leaked National 
Intelligence Estimate would be a reality. It would then take a resolute 
president to stand aside while Iraqis battle it out.

The end product would be an imperfect Iraq, probably dominated by Shia 
Muslims seeking revenge over long oppression by the Sunni-controlled 
Baathist Party. The Kurds would remain in their current semi-autonomous 
state. Iraq would not be divided, reassuring neighboring countries -- 
especially Turkey -- that are apprehensive about ethnically divided nations.

This messy new Iraq is viewed by Bush officials as vastly preferable to 
Saddam's police state, threatening its neighbors and the West. In 
private, some officials believe the mistake was not in toppling Saddam 
but in staying there for nation building after the dictator was deposed.

Abandonment of building democracy in Iraq would be a terrible blow to 
the neoconservative dream. The Bush administration's drift from that 
idea is shown in restrained reaction to Russian President Vladimir 
Putin's seizure of power. While Bush officials would prefer a democratic 
Russia, they appreciate that Putin is determined to prevent his country 
from disintegrating as the Soviet Union did before it. A fragmented 
Russia, prey to terrorists, is not in the U.S. interest.

The Kerry campaign, realizing that its only hope is to attack Bush for 
his Iraq policy, is not equipped to make sober evaluations of Iraq. When 
I asked a Kerry political aide what his candidate would do in Iraq, he 
could do no better than repeat the old saw that help is on the way from 
European troops. Kerry's foreign policy advisers know there will be no 
release from that quarter.

In the Aug. 29 New York Times Magazine, columnist David Brooks wrote an 
article (''How to Reinvent the GOP'') that is regarded as a neo-con 
manifesto and not popular with other conservatives.

''We need to strengthen nation states,'' Brooks wrote, calling for ''a 
multilateral nation-building apparatus.'' To chastened Bush officials, 
that sounds like an invitation to repeat Iraq instead of making sure it 
never happens again.



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