I've been watching Americans (and the rest of the western world) agonize over Iraq for a few years now, and something is starting to really piss me off. In the same way that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are being set up by the media to be the corporate-approved presidential hopefuls, and Genuine Alternatives (TM) to the Republican party, I am noticing democrats/liberals/progressives swallowing the idea that the most radical solution for Iraq--and the most morally right one, too--is to "pull the troops out."
The good answer to Iraq is not "pulling out." Bush (and most of the rest of you--don't think I forget he had a 90% approval rating after 9-11) made one of the biggest messes in the world, and as a Vietnamese-descent person recently pointed out to me, pulling our troops out now to save THEIR lives is almost as arrogant a suggestion as continuing the occupation in the normal way, albeit with slightly more troops. (This person was referring to the way that, after the U.S. finished bombing and occupying Vietnam in the 1950s-70s, and finally withdrew, various Vietnamese groups turned on each other in a horrendous outpouring of violence.)
Well, I'm finally fed up with all the whining about that being the best possible alternative, so here for your reading pleasure is the official "The Only Right Thing To Do In Iraq." Yes, that's right folks: the answer to the quagmire in Iraq is right here, despite the fact that your T.V. has been telling you either (1) There is no good solution, or if you watch Fox, (2) everything is going well and Our Great Leader is spreading democracy, but if it's not working it's the Iraqis' faults.
Be warned: like any genuine correct answer, you're not going to like it.
The Only Right Thing To Do In Iraq
Iraq may have been filled with more extremely troubled, violent religious types than middle America, but now that we stirred up the hornet's nest, the blood is 90% on our hands until we fix it. That means sacrifice, and it means decades of sacrifice.
First, we must increase the number of American troops in Iraq tenfold (or morefold) while we simultaneously increase our investment in military humanitarian training, MP oversight of troops, and public oversight of (an all new set of) contractors. There need to be so many U.S. troops that you can't go outside without bumping into ten. And they all need to be smiling, well-paid, living in sanitary barracks, off stimulant drugs, getting 8 hours of sleep a day, and handing out free candy bars, Qur'ans, Bibles, stuffed animals, food and water, and whatever else on demand.
(We can contract K, B & R to build said troop facilities for the price of $1, or just continue criminally indicting top executives until the remaining ones agree to do the work for $0.50. And in case you're wondering, they have to give back the money they overbilled, too. The $0.50 charge is punitive, not restitutionary.)
Then, we need to pay to leave those troops there for at least 20-25 years while we invest billions upon billions of dollars building a medical and educational infrastructure in Iraq, and providing free and excellent public education to an entire generation of children, where they are taught about Iraqi, world, Arab and Muslim history under a code based on the Nuremburg trials. The vast majority of even the most prejudiced parents will allow their kids to be educated that way if clerics and tribal leaders are brought into the fold, and in order to gain access to the generous parenting subsidies handed out by the U.S.
In order to pay for all these extra troops and goodies, the U.S. is going to have to levy a 75% tax on all forms of income--corporate, personal, overseas, dividend, etc.--above $200K a year, so that military pay and pension for all ranks can double. That should solve the recruitment problem for a little while, and as Iraq gradually improves, it'll only get better.
After 20-25 years, when a generation of Iraqi children of all tribal, religious and ethnic affiliations have had a challenging, modern, diverse university-level education, the U.S. will beg their permission to pull out its forces and let the Iraqis replace them with an Iraqi army. Not because any of them have died in several years, but because it is rather expensive for the U.S. to maintain them. Iraq will consider whether or not it wants to give up the free army and police services, and if it decides to, the U.S. will thank it with a generous trade agreement and an economic development pact to share post-oil R&D facilities and funds, to ensure that Iraq will have a future as its pillaged natural resource runs out.
Expensive, yes. Unrealistic, yes, especially given that even the most radical Americans cannot seem to think of a more dramatic solution than "pull them all out."
On the plus side: after that income tax I mentioned is levied our government will still probably have a better fiscal situation than it does now, in addition to being able to fix Iraq up the right way.
In conclusion, pulling the troops out now has just been fed to you as a prepackaged "progressive" idea by the same corporate machine that brought you the original invasion. The powers that be knew damn well that Bush would self destruct in 8 years. The entire point of getting him in there was to make things so extreme that the more authoritarian elements in the Democratic Party would seem like a real policy change.
If you pull the troops out now, you are rewarding the corpocracy by allowing them to cease paying for the occupation while having already gotten all the benefits of oil ownership and Saddam-toppling. Go ahead: they're laughing hysterically as the "left wing" tries to justify getting them out of their credit card bills! Ooh, they're really scared that you'll make them stop paying even the token costs of occupation, while they still maintain their hardened military bases and oilfields! Stop it, please, they can't take any more! Riiiight. How did you ever fall for it?
After Bush, Obama and Clinton seem like left-wingers, and pulling the troops out of Iraq and leaving it to eat itself alive seems like a radically progressive solution. Good God. How can it be the right choice to set generations-old tribal and religious enemies against each other in a genocidal war, and then shut the door and walk away and tell yourself you're making the "best possible choice"? Don't be disgusting. Really, I mean it. What were you thinking?