Green Zone Talk
(guest post by Taylor Marsh)
Iraq is going…. going…
There are now 600 insurgent attacks per week.
David Ignatius lays it out.
The images from Iraq are of hell on earth: On Sunday 12 Iraqi students traveling to Baqubah to take their final exams were dragged from a bus and killed because they practiced the wrong religion. The next day gunmen dressed in police uniforms kidnapped 56 people near the bus station in central Baghdad and hauled them off in pickup trucks.
This is an Iraqi nightmare, and America seems powerless to stop it. What would you think if you were the parent of one of those dead Iraqi children? You would want the United States, the nation that broke the fragile bonds that once held Iraq together, to act more effectively to control this violence. And you would want Iraq’s so-called government of national unity to behave like one and stop the killers who are devouring the decent people of Iraq. And if neither the Americans nor the Iraqi government could protect your children, you would turn to the militias.
If we can indeed salvage Iraq, I haven’t seen the plan. It’s not in the papers, on the web, or being talked about in any meaningful way that can be translated to us. Ignatius talks about Iraq "unraveling." We’ve been in that state, watching the country come apart, for months. "Clear, hold and build" has become "keep down, shoot first, hold on."
As I’ve been writing regularly of late, while al-Maliki and the ruling elite are locked safely inside the Green Zone, the people of Iraq are either dying or living lives of terrified desperation, waiting for something to change. No one knows whether this new government will last, but one thing is certain. It simply cannot exist from inside a bubble. We all know too well what happens when leaders lose contact with the people they’re supposed to govern and it’s nothing good.
A bold proposal comes from my friend in Iraq, who knows the security situation there intimately. He argues that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki should move his government’s 27 ministries, which increasingly are operating in the Green Zone, out into the city. The Iraqi army would protect each outpost of the government, aided by U.S. teams. "The population needs to see there is a government that has the courage to reclaim the city, one district at a time."
Does the new Iraqi ruling elite have the courage to live in the city like the people, who are now fleeing to the outskirts of Iraq and beyond because they have no leadership? More importantly, do they have the incentive to lead Iraq? Or is Prime Minister al-Maliki expecting the U.S. to do it for him through force of our military that he expects will remain on the ground indefinitely?
There’s only one way to send al-Maliki the message and make sure he gets it. Our time on the ground of Iraq is at an end. It’s time to pull out of the cities. We’ll still be in the region, but the country is now the Iraqis to make of it what they will. It’s time for the prime minister to do his job. His people are dying. We can’t stop it, though at this point it’s unclear if anyone can.
Democrats would do well to stand up, speak out and demand redeployment from Iraq. The people want to rally to our side, but we have to give them a reason on the number one issue that’s on their minds.