Hagel: We Need to Internationalize Iraq Effort and Withdraw US Flag


(1st Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich Jr. — died in Iraq in line of duty — 13 May 2007)
Last week, I was in attendance at the “conference launch” of the Center for a New America Security when anti-Iraq War scholar Andrew Bacevich was present at and acknowledged the creation of a new CNAS Bacevich fellowship in honor of his son, Andrew J. Bacevich Jr., who was recently killed in the line of military duty in Iraq. (I wrote a piece in tribute to his son the night the Department of Defense announced his death.)
hagelkeynote.jpgAfter that, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) gave a speech that very much outlined what he published in the Financial Times today. One can watch the Bacevich tribute and Hagel speech at this video link — or read Hagel’s oped here.
But essentially, Senator Hagel is calling for the American flag to be removed from the scene in Iraq and continues to hammer on the “false choice” that too many are making between the deal-making we must do in the Middle East with Arab nations on one hand and Israel’s security needs on the other.
I completely agree with Hagel who wrote:

American military power will not be the solution. The time for more troops is past. We must begin planning for a phased withdrawal and redeployment of US troops from Iraq. The only sustainable way forward is to achieve Iraqi political accommodation that will begin to move the country towards political reconciliation. However, Iraqis by themselves appear incapable of achieving political progress. They have had more than four years to find a political consensus. It continues to evade them, increasing the violence and danger in the Middle East.
We need strategic direction for Iraq that moves to “internationalise” our efforts to help the Iraqis achieve a core of political stability. As the Baker-Hamilton report concluded, Iraqi political accommodation can be achieved only within a constructive regional framework supported by the international community. The US must refocus its policy, leadership and resources on directly helping the Iraqis to establish an inclusive political framework to begin to defuse the violence.
An international mediator, under the auspices of the UN Security Council and with the full support of the Iraqi government, should be established. The mediator should have the authority of the international community to engage Iraq’s political, religious, ethnic and tribal leaders in an inclusive political process. In letters last month to President George W. Bush and the UN secretary-general I urged them urgently to consider this initiative.
Special envoys have been instrumental in helping bring political reconciliation to other recent conflicts — Afghanistan, Kosovo, East Timor, Northern Ireland — adapted to the conditions in each country. Iraq needs the inter­national community’s help and support if it is to turn away from sectarian violence. If there is Iraqi resistance, we should be clear with all Iraq’s leaders that this initiative is a condition of continued US support.

I think Iraq is going to be a long term problem, and that ‘some dimensions’ of the Iraq conflict are beginning to bear some similarity to the Israel-Palestine standoff.
In fact, Israel-Palestine today looks more solvable even though the Palestinian government is divided in territory and government than Iraq appears.
More soon.
— Steve Clemons


9 comments on “Hagel: We Need to Internationalize Iraq Effort and Withdraw US Flag

  1. aileench says:

    While the U.S. government and media keep focusing on defense policies and the war in Iraq, 1.2 billion people in the world continue surviving on less than $1 dollar a day. We should not forget the committment the U.S. made towards the U.N. Millennium Goals (a pact of ending extreme world hunger by the year 2025) in 2000. According to The Borgen Project, an annual $19 billion dollars is needed to end world hunger by the year 2025. To my sense, it is almost unacceptable to have spent so far more than $340 billion in Iraq only, when we have more than war immunities to change the world and eliminate poverty.


  2. Sandy says:

    Those are the days I long for, too, Kathleen! 🙂


  3. Carroll says:

    Give Iraq to Iran and Saudi to work out.
    If you don’t the Shittes will fight it out until they win anyway and Iran will be their best ally.


  4. Kathleen says:

    Better late than never, I guess. I’ve been begging Dems to call for replacing our troops with UN Peacekeepers since we committed the crime of aggression against Iraq.
    If Iraqis are “unwilling” as a previous commenter states, it’s because they do not wish to be bossed around by a bullying occupier. We expect them to smile while we steal their oil and be grateful for everything we’ve done for them????
    Get real!
    The “insurgency” as the Coalition of the Willing likes to refer to Iraqis who fight their presence, are fighting Vichy Iraqis. It is not wide sectarian violence stemming from ancient conflicts.
    Removing Saddam has had no perceivable positive effect on making the world safer, certainly not Iraq. It has made Dopey a “War President” and therefore beyond the reach of law, national Security and all, so perhaps Dopey and Darth’s personal world is safer, for sure. They can spy on us, but we can’t know what they are doing, plus pay for this fiasco in tax dollars.
    When the UN Security Council authorization for Coalition Forces to remain in Iraq expires in December, it will be interesting to see how Dopey and Darth respond to being asked to leave and not collect billions of gallons of oil on their way out.
    At this point, out of Iraq is not enough. Out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave is what the doctor orders, if our Republic is to survive this blood bath fever.
    Oh, for the good old days, when men of honor could walk up to Dopey and Darth and slap them in the face with a glove, walk 20 paces at dawn and shoot the bastards. Color me “sentimental”.


  5. mc_masterchef says:

    Um, just for the record, it’s pronounced “BAY-sa-vich”, not “Ba-say-vich”.


  6. jon says:

    Damn, Steve, that’s some strong Koolaid you’re sippin’ there!
    The time to ‘internationalize’ the Iraq conflict was the second UN resolution that never happened because the US couldn’t be bothered working things out with an ‘outmoded’ institution. Nice of Hagel to try to get right on the subject, but he’s just blowing enough smoke so he can either sidle off or try to look like some white knight coming to the rescue. No sale.
    If you’ve been watching the math, the US has been building up, while the Coalition of the Willing has been building down. Either way, the Iraqis have kept busy and continue to work around the impediments. Not that this is good.
    The only way to can credit US military and diplomatic efforts in Iraq is to imagine that they intentionally followed the Israeli plan of laying waste to the Palestinians, fragmenting the polity, eviscerating the political base, destroying the economy, and balkanizing the population into Bantustans. In that case, the US is well on its way to exceeding expectations.
    Israel/Palestine is not the solution. Many of our problems can be traced to our adoption of Israeli policies, tactics, intelligence and operatives. Leaving Iraq a smoldering wreck works for the Israelis since it’s not next door and it knocks their primary regional foe down a couple of pegs. The israelis think that a hardened border, overwhelming military superiority and its random application will break the Palestinians. No more than the Blitz broke the British.
    Or were you referring to the UN troops buffering the Israeli/Lebanese border? The ones that get illegally overflown by Israel about 20-30 times a day? The ones who rely on the protection of Hezbollah?
    I’m surprised that folks haven’t been looking at the Swiss model of a federation of cantons. Regional identity, different languages and customs, unified national and international policies. Strong military skewed towards defense with a neutral stance. Obviously one or two differences that might need to be finessed before it all works like clockwork…
    Hagel has highly unreasonable expectations. He should be figuring out how we keep Iraq from turning into Somalia or Yugoslavia. He should be working on how to prevent Cheney from widening the conflict to Iran (Syria is such small potatoes these days).
    As much as I dream of our removing US troops from Iraq post haste, there ain’t anyone coming in behind us. There just isn’t any country that stupid or desperate.
    What ever happened to the vaunted ‘Pottery Barn Rule’?


  7. JohnH says:

    It looks like the American foreign policy mafia is aligning around making Iraq an international problem. Hagel wants a UN Security Council lead, Kissinger wants multi-lateral negotiations where the US takes the lead in implementing the agreements on the ground in Iraq: http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/07/02/opinion/edkiss.php
    Kissinger even suggests putting “forward a diplomatic position that acknowledges the legitimate security interests of Iran.” Heresy! Iran getting US permission to control its own oil!?!
    But can the US, having broken Iraq, now give up ownership, including control over the oil spigot, in order to entice the international community into sharing the problem? Wouldn’t that mean that the US has also ceded control over oil to the international community? Such a thought is enough to bring Dick Cheney out of his bunker!


  8. Homer says:

    Sen. Hagel: They have had more than four years to find a political consensus.
    Hagel expects men from al-Dawa, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, et al to start obeying commands from the US when the US basically pissed on them while Saddam Hussein was persecuting, gassing, and executing the opposition in the 1980s and 1990s
    The Iraqi Parliament is not in-capable.
    The Iraqi Parliament is un-willing to become a loyal ally to the US which is Israel’s best friend in the ME.
    It is pretty obvious why the Iraqi Parliament has been able to give the US a stiffened middle finger for the last four years.
    1) Bush warns Iraq on chemical arms U.S. fears use of weapons against rebels. Chicago Tribune. March 10, 1991 [snip]
    Jawad al-Maliki of the Dawa Party said in Damascus, Syria, that mustard gas was used against protesters in al-Haleh, al-Kifil, Najaf and some areas of Basra, in southeastern Iraq.
    Precisely what is going on inside Iraq is difficult to determine since Western reporters have been expelled. Most information is coming from refugees and opposition leaders in Iran and Syria.
    Defense Secretary Dick Cheney described the situation as “volatile” but said it appears Hussein will be able to keep the unrest in check for now.
    The Iraqi leader is using his loyal Republican Guard to quell the
    2) U.S. Feels Out Iran Groups Trying to Oust Iraqi Leader. Wall Street Journal. July 31, 1998 [snip]
    Hamad Al-Bayati, a Sciri representative in London, says his group doesn’t want U.S. funds, and, “We have doubts about the seriousness of the administration.”
    Dr. Al-Bayati, who met with Mr. Indyk last month in Washington, says the U.S. should crack down on Iraqi human-rights violations as hard as it cracks down on Iraq’s weapons programs.
    For example, he says, when two Shiite religious leaders were
    assassinated in southern Iraq, the U.S. was silent.
    A State Department official says the U.S. had prepared a condemnation, but the issue never came up in news briefings.


  9. easy e says:

    Agreed, Iraq WILL be a long term problem.
    If we don’t stop this cabal now through impeachment, Iraq will pale in comparison to the consequences of nuking IRAN.


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