Friday, October 07, 2005

A Plan

One of the most popular Republican memes is that the Democrats don't have a plan for anything. All the Democrats do is carp and complain and obstinately refuse any ideas the Right comes up with.

Well, I have an idea. Let's come up with a plan for ending the butchery clusterfuck known as Iraq. It really isn't impossible if the Democrats just quit ignoring that particular eight-hundred pound gorilla.

Howard Dean should call the Carter Center and ask Jimmy to step up to the plate on this one. Then the good doctor should call Madeline Albright and invite her to the Carter Center for a meeting, and make sure she brings her old rolodex and the one on her current desk with her. His next call should be to Bill Clinton, but he should be told to leave his wife at home on this trip.

When all of these folks meet up in Jimmy Carter's headquarters, they should start by brainstorming the names of people in Jordan, Iran, and Syria who are not necessarily government officials, but who have contacts within government circles that might be helpful, and who are wise enough to know that the Iraq problem is an even more serious threat to Middle East stability than the Palestinian issue. Clinton, Albright, and Carter surely know not only who those people are but also how to quietly contact them.

Once that list is formulated, members of this ex officio committee should invite the people on that list to a quiet meeting at a neutral site: Oslo, Stockholm, perhaps even (shades of VietNam) Paris.

At that first meeting abroad, the committee members should explore with their counterparts what kind of pressure or incentives will be necessary to interest these governments in assisting in getting the US out of Iraq in such a fashion that Iraq would not immediately descend into civil war. The assistance would involve not only yanking on the leashes of the factions of Iraqis that these countries have sympathies with (Iran-Shi'ites, Syrian-Sunnis)but also troops to assist with order-keeping and training, and funds for reconstruction.

Once this kind of quiet (and completely un-official)diplomacy has gotten a decent start, Mr. Dean should privately advise Democratic leaders what the possibilities are and inform them what steps will have to be taken at home.

Getting out of Iraq is going to be no more of a cakewalk than getting out of Viet Nam was, but quiet diplomacy done outside formal government circles got the ball rolling then. I think this is as good as any way to get started in coming up with a plan that is both workable and sellable to the American public. And it needs to be started yesterday. Too many people are dying.


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