- Peace Garden: Tom Hayden's ideas...

Tom Hayden's ideas...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Ending the War in 2009
In the debate on Capitol Hill, I favor setting a withdrawal deadline, which is the only way to begin the shift away from a military model to a conflict resolution model. But a deadline is not enough. I interviewed former CIA director John Deutch about a rational exit plan, and he stressed two essentials: [1] that the US has to decide to withdraw, which it has not, and [2] he stressed diplomacy with Iran, which he called the only country that could cause trouble during our withdrawal. He was implying negotiations with Iran to obtain what Richard Nixon once called a “decent interval” for the US to leave Vietnam.
We should call for a shift from warmaking to peacemaking through a diplomatic offensive, declaring a firm intention to withdraw all American troops and bases on a one-year timetable, which would create an immediate incentive for engagement on the part of Iran, Syria, the Arab League, the Europeans, Russians and Chinese, the UN. No one has an interest in joining the US in the occupation; everyone has a interest in minimizing a power vacuum as we leave. The issues to be resolved will be humanitarian assistance to 3-4 million refugees, economic reconstruction, and protection of all Iraqis from unrestrained vendettas. America should offer to assist by appointing a peace envoy and offering billions in reconstruction. The horrific damage cannot be undone but can be contained and mitigated.
The year 2009 will be decisive. This week comes the debate over the surge. Next week the president’s recommendations. Then the elusive search among the politicians for bipartisan consensus. Then the appropriations bill, then the new request for next year’s war funding, then the presidential primaries, all of that in the next six months. Then in April, comes the projected breaking point for the armed forces, when some troop withdrawals will have to begin or tours of duty extended to intolerable lengths. Then the political conventions in the protest-friendly cities of Denver and Minneapolis, and then the campaign itself.
Step by step, we all need to ensure that ending the war is the issue on which the elections turn.
Not happening as soon as we would like - but this may be the reality of the mess - we have to wait until the next Oval Office occupant. Let's make sure the right one is elected...
Iraq is the focal point for confronting the great issues of our future. The fight is on. As Bobby Sands, the Irish hunger striker used to say, everyone has a part to play, and our reward will be seen in the smiles of the children.

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