When it comes to the Iraq war, the question is no longer whether the U.S. should end it, but how. On yesterday's Meet the Bloggers, special guest Darcy Burner made the case for A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq, which she co-authored earlier this year. This plan calls for the removal of U.S. troops rapidly and safely, while increasing diplomacy and foreign aid to rebuild Iraq.
According the Burner, we're already beginning to see the Responsible Plan in action. Any recent "success" in Iraq is NOT due to the military surge, despite what the Bush administration, John McCain, and the corporate media would have us believe. Rather, the progress we've made in Iraq is due to new diplomatic, economic, and political efforts to foster stability. What's more, the recent attempts by Congress to reform our interrogation policies, to hold private contractors in Iraq accountable, and to create the GI Bill for the 21st Century were all specifics initially recommended by the Responsible Plan, not to mention calls for a troop withdrawal timetable.
But ending the Iraq war is only part of the Responsible Plan. The show's panel of bloggers David Goldstein (HorsesAss.org), Joan McCarter (Daily Kos), and Matt Stoller (Open Left) pointed out that we must also repair the structural problems that led us into Iraq in the first place. Failures across the board, from our branches of government to our media, must be fixed in order to prevent a quagmire like this from happening again. Stoller suggested a crucial first step would be for the Bush administration to admit this war was all for oil, and that we cannot be intimidated by right-wing media, Big Oil executives, and conservatives who attempt to smear us for connecting Iraq with oil and our economy.
Then there's the media. As McCarter noted, the mainstream press STILL hasn't learned from its failures to confront the Bush administration in the run up to this war. They're touting the success of the surge without looking at the non-military efforts to effect peaceful change.
Yesterday's show coincided with a new report from NBC News that the U.S. and Iraq are close to creating a timetable for withdrawing our troops by 2010, with remaining forces out by 2012. A timetable, of course, is what the Responsible Plan and Barack Obama have been calling for all along, and what Bush and McCain have resisted. (David Goldstein jokingly referred to the differences between a "timetable" and a "time horizon.") But as Stoller explained, the U.S. can't afford to leave troops in Iraq because that could mean forcing us to choose sides in an Iraqi civil war.
While the show's bloggers disagreed as to how effective Obama might be in ending the war, all agreed that McCain has pandered too much on this issue to be the leader we need going forward. What's more, they concluded that having Obama in office would enable Congress to the seek progressive reforms called for by the Responsible Plan. Fortunately, Burner and others aren't waiting for November to take action.
For the full episode: http://meetthebloggers.org. Meet the Bloggers airs live every Friday at 1pm ET/10am PT.