I agree with virtually 99% of what you said, and will add a "here, here" to many of your words.
I would like to offer further thought on one of your thoughts, because it's very important to do this right so as to avoid a possible problem you pointed out. You wrote that we couldn't "just leave" because things would fall apart and we'd never live it down. I agree, but perhaps I am remiss to not pointing out that this is not an abandonment, rather it's a transition
to international peace keeping forces, largely with a Muslem face with the help of surrounding Muslem nations.
If you look at Kucinich's plan, or Naders, or virtually any true progressives, a big part of the withdrawel is an accompanied transition
to an international peacekeeping force, (and because US special interests are no longer part of the prize, othewr nations will be willing to help).
We leave because it is the right thing to do, not because we are "beaten."
This is more than ceasing to do the wrong thing, it is a beginning of doing the RIGHT thing. First and foremost in this is consideration for the plight of the Iraqi people, and that means instead of spending $10 billion a month on war for a while, we're going to be spending $10 billion a month on aid.
Turning over control to international peacekeeping forces as we withdraw US interests and US troops is the right thing to do. I feel the American people will finally be appriciated forforcing their corruption ridden government to FINALLY do the right thing.
Not only are 140, 000 US troops, and 100, 000 contractors (whose numbers are growing: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 11_pf.html
), walking around causing violence, but US interests with rights to Iraqi oil is causing violence. Sharing some of the proceeds with those Iraqi's who will play along is causing violence as it creates "have nots." Besides the troops and the contractors, foreign rights to Iraqi oil
are now written into their client state government, (democracy grows ground up, it cannot be imposed top down with special privelege for those in the right place at the right time), Paul Bremmers 100 orders are causing violence.
We leave the right way because it's the right thing to do, and it's a transition with a lot of aid, not an abandonment. We went in there to impose our interests, and we must now squelch hopes of attaining those interests. We hear this from people like Kucinich, but not from the big monied politicians, the monied politicians would like us to be "afraid to abandom them."
And on the opposite side of the coin, there is no hope that the troops are going to be able to protect US interests and beat them into submission. It's a false presupposition that US troops staying there is going to help something. Similar to East Timor, the violence quelled when the fighters were pulled, there was no blood bath as the pundits warned against throughout the previous 25 years of US backed slaughter, (250, 000 dead, 1/3rd of the island's population).
Excuse the copy/paste, but here's Kucinich's plan, like many rational plans, it is not at all abandoment:
These are the elements of the Kucinich Plan:
1. The US announces it will end the occupation, close military bases and withdraw. The insurgency has been fueled by the occupation and the prospect of a long-term presence as indicated by the building of permanent bases. A US declaration of an intention to withdraw troops and close bases will help dampen the insurgency which has been inspired to resist colonization and fight invaders and those who have supported US policy. Furthermore this will provide an opening where parties within Iraq and in the region can set the stage for negotiations towards peaceful settlement.
2. .US announces that it will use existing funds to bring the troops and necessary equipment home. Congress appropriated $70 billion in bridge funds on October 1 st for the war. Money from this and other DOD accounts can be used to fund the troops in the field over the next few months, and to pay for the cost of the return of the troops, (which has been estimated at between $5 and $7 billion dollars) while a political settlement is being negotiated and preparations are made for a transition to an international security and peacekeeping force.
3. Order a simultaneous return of all US contractors to the United States and turn over all contracting work to the Iraqi government. The contracting process has been rife with world-class corruption, with contractors stealing from the US Government and cheating the Iraqi people, taking large contracts and giving 5% or so to Iraqi subcontractors.
Reconstruction activities must be reorganized and closely monitored in Iraq by the Iraqi government, with the assistance of the international community. The massive corruption as it relates to US contractors, should be investigated by congressional committees and federal grand juries. The lack of tangible benefits, the lack of accountability for billions of dollars, while millions of Iraqis do not have a means of financial support, nor substantive employment, cries out for justice.
It is noteworthy that after the first Gulf War, Iraqis reestablished electricity within three months, despite sanctions. Four years into the US occupation there is no water, nor reliable electricity in Bagdhad, despite massive funding from the US and from the Madrid conference. The greatest mystery involves the activities of private security companies who function as mercenaries. Reports of false flag operations must be investigated by an international tribunal.
4. Convene a regional conference for the purpose of developing a security and stabilization force for Iraq. The focus should be on a process which solves the problems of Iraq. The US has told the international community, "This is our policy and we want you to come and help us implement it." The international community may have an interest in helping Iraq, but has no interest in participating in the implementation of failed US policy.
A shift in US policy away from unilateralism and toward cooperation will provide new opportunities for exploring common concerns about the plight of Iraq. The UN is the appropriate place to convene, through the office of the Secretary General, all countries that have interests, concerns and influence, including the five permanent members of the Security Council and the European community, and all Arab nations.
The end of the US occupation and the closing of military bases are necessary preconditions for such a conference. When the US creates a shift of policy and announces it will focus on the concerns of the people of Iraq, it will provide a powerful incentive for nations to participate.
It is well known that while some nations may see the instability in Iraq as an opportunity, there is also an even-present danger that the civil war in Iraq threatens the stability of nations throughout the region. The impending end of the occupation will provide a breakthrough for the cooperation between the US and the UN and the UN and countries of the region. The regional conference must include Iran, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
5. Prepare an international security and peacekeeping force to move in, replacing US troops who then return home. The UN has an indispensable role to play here, but cannot do it as long as the US is committed to an occupation. The UN is the only international organization with the ability to mobilize and the legitimacy to authorize troops.
The UN is the place to develop the process, to build the political consensus, to craft a political agreement, to prepare the ground for the peacekeeping mission, to implement the basis of an agreement that will end the occupation and begin the transition to international peacekeepers. This process will take at least three months from the time the US announces the intention to end the occupation.
The US will necessarily have to fund a peacekeeping mission, which, by definition will not require as many troops. Fifty percent of the peacekeeping troops must come from nations with large Muslim populations. The international security force, under UN direction, will remain in place until the Iraqi government is capable of handling its own security. The UN can field an international security and peace keeping mission, but such an initiative will not take shape unless there is a peace to keep, and that will be dependent upon a political process which reaches agreement between all the Iraqi parties.