THE BLOG
07/26/2007 04:07 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

How the Next President Should Handle Iraq

The fourth thing I would do as president would be to pull out of Iraq... but with serious conditions.

The US must allow the Iraqis to fight a civil war. We pull out of Iraq, but not out of the area entirely. The US should build, with the help of other nations as well, a coalition base outside of the most dangerous areas in the region. That base should be on the Pakistani border, because the Pakistanis are a shitty ally, are full of bull and need to be watched every moment and their country is a haven for Al Qaeda. The next president should travel the globe fortifying support from our allies and exhorting them to commit funds and troops to the next stage of this effort.

In that next stage, the US will say to Iraqi officials and to the Iraqi people that America will withdraw from Iraq in order to allow them to form a government. A legitimate government. An elected government. A government that will function as a legitimate trading partner with the US and the world. And one that renounces Al Qaeda and all terrorist activity in the region. The US suggests a timetable. If real progress is made, that timetable could be extended. US government officials, both State Department and intelligence, are stationed in Iraq to consult on and oversee the transition.

Meanwhile, the president is lobbying our allies, and others as well, to share in the responsibility of combating global terrorism. Other nations must increase their efforts in this area, and the next president must make that case to the world. The next president must reclaim America's mantle as a hero of democracy and as a friend to developing countries; not one who destabilizes weaker states for economic advantage or, just as disturbing, lies to its own people in order to engage in a war for oil.

There is one superseding constant here. Our enemies do not seek, in collegiate wrestling terms, an escape. They seek a reversal. They seek a move or series of moves that will put their boot heel into our neck, just as they perceive, rightly or wrongly so, that we currently have our boot heel in theirs. Our enemies are bold, vicious and unflagging in numbers. Most importantly, they value human life less than any group of people on earth. What's done is done in the Middle East. This administration made sure of that. We have many enemies there and they must be dealt with. We can address our issues in Iraq and also reestablish what was once a noble society there, albeit a tortured one. But only with truly compelling leadership in the White House.

Let the Iraqis form their government. If they don't, we attack. This time with a true coalition force. As I have maintained on this blog before, the US cannot fight everyone. We need friends. we need help. We need to play it smart. Smarter than this crowd ever had any hope of being. The damage done to the reputation of this great country can be undone. But we must have leadership on a par that we have not seen in quite some time.

Withdraw. Regroup. Lead. Attacking is always a last option. When exercised, it must always be conclusive.