Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The LP has a plan

The Libertarian Party has a plan for getting out of Iraq.

I have some reservations about that plan, which I'll get to shortly, but let's get thing straight up front: The LP has been, and continues to be, the only party offering a plan to get the US out of Iraq. The Democrats keep kvetching about it, but the farthest they've gone is to hector the Bush administration to offer a plan of its own. Some Republicans are starting to get antsy, but they haven't taken their leader to the woodshed yet.

In the 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry refused to commit to any kind of timeline, while Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik offered a realistic, detailed promise of US withdrawal (I didn't find that detailed proposal right away on his site, but I know it exists -- I helped write it -- and a Google search on "Badnarik" "Iraq" and "withdrawal" will turn up a number of interview references).

So: Hats off to the LP. It isn't too often that they get to be the only realistic political party on stage, and this is one of those times.

Now, to my problems with the plan:

1) It envisions a one-year withdrawal, with re-routing of many of the troops in Iraq to "other bases in the Middle East."

If Iraq was at peace, a year would be a realistic timeline. Iraq isn't at peace -- so, if there's going to be a withdrawal, it needs to be a quick one. Badnarik's 90-day phased withdrawal was the timeline most consistent with the safety of the troops. Any faster, and security would become lax to accomodate speed of movement. Much slower, and significant numbers of troops would be left in a less secure environment for a longer time than necessary. Either of these scenarios increases the potential for attacks on US troops that need not happen.

Also, the withdrawal from Iraq should be part of a general withdrawal from the Middle East. If there is still work to do tracking down al Qaeda in central Asia/Afghanistan (after letting them get away in 2001 while the US messed with "nation-building" instead), fine ... but the US presence in the Middle East was the casus belli for, and is the enabler of, the terrorism which the US is purportedly fighting. It's time to bring the troops home from the entire region, not just from Iraq.

2) It envisions a "direct aid" program from the US to Iraq.

Leaving aside libertarian ideological arguments as to how such an "aid" package would be financed, this is just a euphemism for reparations. I don't have a problem with reparations, but paying reparations while pretending to instead be extending magnanimous aid loses two ways: Everyone knows you're paying reparations, and you're hiding your face in shame and pretending to not be doing what you're doing. If the US is going to pay reparations, just eat the damn crow and call them reparations. If the US is going to accept the ignominy of paying reparations for its aggression in Iraq, then it should hold its head high and claim credit for paying its debts, instead of arrogantly pretending that it's just throwing money at a panhandler out of charity.

Even with those flaws, however, the LP is ahead of the curve. It is the only political party speaking for the majority of Americans who now realize that the war on Iraq was a bad idea and is a failed venture. I don't know if I can overcome my objections and sign on to the plan, but I applaud the LP for being the only party to take a mainstream approach to the problem -- and, moreover, for having stood on principle and waited for the mainstream to accept reality, instead of abandoning principle and reality to chase that mainstream.

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