Princeton Professor In The WAPO: Let’s Deliberately Lose Iraq

Last week, I covered loopy Libertarian, Lew Rockwell’s oddball plan to replace all of our troops in Iraq with Jimmy Carter and a few diplomats who would be setting up an election so the “wildly popular” Saddam could sweep to victory at the ballot box.

But, if you thought that was a farfetched scheme, you ain’t seen nothing yet because I’ve found a column that can top it — in the Washington Post no less! As you read the details of John Brady Kiesling’s daffy idea for Iraq, I want you to remember that he “is a visiting lecturer at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and Hellenic Studies Program (and) (h)e spent 20 years in the U.S. Foreign Service before resigning in protest on the eve of the war in Iraq”. Get ready for some ivory tower idiocy in 3…2…1…

“…The uprising of radical Shiite Moqtada Sadr and his militia, an uprising that briefly unified Sunni and Shiite insurgencies in opposition to the United States, points the way forward. Our goal is a legitimate Iraqi state. Resistance to the United States turned Sadr from a scruffy mediocrity into a national figure. The struggle against foreign occupation can generate the legitimacy needed to hold Iraq together. A leader who drives the Americans out can claim the loyalty of enough of the Iraqi people to govern Iraq by methods more acceptable than Saddam Hussein’s.

To achieve its vital war aims, in other words, America must abandon its dream of victory and accept the appearance of defeat. What does this mean in practice? Quite simply, the United States must take a cold, analytical look at the forces arrayed against us in Iraq and decide which leader should be allowed the glorious destiny of redeeming his country from foreign occupation. Once the United States has fixed on a credible resistance leader, our goal should be to cede him tactical, positional victories while denying them to his competitors. The U.S. military might be able to find and disable any resistance large enough to be a military threat, but this leader’s movement we should allow to grow. We should open a communications channel, and enforce a set of rules to limit the battlefield and minimize casualties.

Success breeds success. Iraqis will quickly rally to any leader associated with our retreat. We should strive to become invisible, while our foe takes on responsibility for the security Iraqis have learned to value more than freedom. When the time comes, we will pull out completely, and an Iraqi leader will enter Baghdad in triumph, greeted with the flowers our troops never received. He will be the one to invite in the U.N. reconstruction effort. He will be able to guarantee the security to reconstruction teams that the U.S. military could not.

There are plenty of difficulties with this scenario: The president may not be brave enough to admit defeat, even a nominal defeat that ensures our key aims and stanches the hemorrhage of lives and treasure. Moreover, the Kurds will not be impressed by any savior from outside Kurdistan, so Turkish threats and U.S. promises will be needed to keep the Kurds within a federal Iraqi state. And no U.S. Congress would willingly appropriate reconstruction money for a country that defeated us, no matter what we promised the Iraqi people.

Accepting this leader will be a bitter pill for us to swallow. We may hit upon a dynamic nonsectarian figure to lead Iraq, a genuine Iraqi patriot, but we cannot hope that he will be pro-Western. Perhaps there is indeed a budding George Washington who will refuse the kingship a grateful Iraqi people would offer. More likely we will end up with a reasonably popular despot. But we cannot dictate a system, only promote a leader. If we prefer not to choose, the choice will be made by our foes.

…America’s reluctance to make difficult policy decisions will probably doom us to a decade of pointless losses in Iraq. There is an alternative: Not to cut and run, but to fight with honorable cunning and to lose. Let us see whether President Bush is brave enough to finish what he started, in the only way that might, ultimately, leave America a little safer than before he took office.”

Yes, you’re reading that right. Kiesling, a man who “spent 20 years in the U.S. Foreign Service,” is suggesting that George W. Bush DELIBERATELY ENGINEER A US DEFEAT in Iraq. That’s a great idea — super — well, as long as we’re talking about some BIZARRO WORLD where everything wrong is right, everything good is bad, and where George W. Bush wouldn’t become even more despised that Benedict Arnold if he somehow managed to pull this off.

There are so many problems and difficulties with Kiesling’s analysis that it’s hard to know where to begin. But we must begin somewhere, so let me note that despite Al-Sadr’s faltering insurgency, what happened in Fallujah, and the scandalous pics that came out of Abu Ghraib, time is on our side. Al-Sadr’s revolt is very unpopular, Iraqi police and military forces are getting stronger by the day, we have a limited handover of sovereignty on June 30th, and there are national elections scheduled for Jan of 2005. Despite the headlines that dominate the headlines written by our Vietnam obsessed press, Democracy is moving inexorably closer and at the moment there’s nothing on the horizon that threatens to derail it.

But, even if that weren’t the case, what Kiesling suggests is ridiculous and not just because it would require President Bush to commit treason to pull it off. What do you say the families of the soldiers who are killed as we’re faking our way of Iraq? Come to think of it, you couldn’t say anything if you were going to actually pull it off.

Say, how does that work exactly? How do you throw a war without alerting the military, most of your own staff, and Congress? Because if everyone knows you’re losing the war on purpose, then it would undercut what you’re trying to do. Moreover, what it do to our reputation in the region, in the world, in the eyes of the terrorists we’re fighting if we deliberately allowed some thugs with a few thousand men wielding AK-47s to run us out of Iraq and take over the country? Imagine “Blackhawk Down” times 50.

That fact that Kiesling, who must be a fool to have written this column, got published in the WAPO, is a visiting lecturer at Princeton, and spent 20 years in foreign service, proves that we tolerate fools too gladly in our society.

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