Monday, September 20, 2004

It's the Iraq mess, stupid

Not the economy, not the deficit, not the cost of health care. These are compelling issues that support the defeat of Bush, but Bush's bleeding wound is Iraq. And now that it looks like Kerry is going to need an "October surprise" to pull out this election (Bush, BTW, has in mind to appoint Rudy Guliani as the boss of Homeland Security, I've heard, the announcement to be made in October), Kerry needs "a plan" to solve the Iraq issue.

His "internationalization" idea's no good. Too fluffy, too amorphous, too much like Bush's approach and, most of all, impossible-sounding. He needs specifics, and here they are:

1. Announce that as president he would immediately rescind the reconstruction contract with Halliburton and all of its subsidiaries Other corporations, too, that have violated our trust so far, and those whose practices are outrageous, such as overcharging, hiring foreign workers and so forth.

2. Announce that all rebuilding efforts will be done by Iraqis, funded by our reconstruction money, only a small portion of which has yet been spent.

3. Give specific tasks to the military. Guarding, securing, but no more random patrols, no more general police duties. Iraqis can do that, or if they don't want to, they don't have to. If violence happens, it happens, but meanwhile the Iraqis are being well paid to rebuild their own nation and will be the source of manpower to keep the peace, since now they have a stake--a financial stake--in the outcome.

4. Release all prisoners who aren't charged with a specific offense.

In other words, turn Iraq over to the Iraqis now--and pull back our military so that its purpose is simply to preserve Iraq, not build it.

This gives Kerry a chance to take a huge swing at a huge vulnerability: the Cheney/KBR/Halliburton graft, the waste of American goodwill, lives and resources, with a viable alternative: allowing the skilled, unemployed Iraqis build their own nation. It'll be cheaper, more secure for our troops, and certainly couldn't be slower.

So--next time the question comes up--What will you do to get out of the mess in Iraq--Kerry will be able to answer that question with a grin and a "I'm glad you asked that" reply, rather than the weasel-worded response he's so far come up with.

It's no October surprise. It's a late-September one, and I can't wait to hear it.

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