Look, I don't have an answer either. I've thought about it long and hard sure that there must be a magic formula for making things good. But I've got nothing.
So today, I was pleased (if that's the right word) to read over at Jaun Cole's site a guest post by Alan Richards of the University of California Santa Cruz actually suggesting there may not be a solution. That sometimes when you break something it can't be fixed.
Here's some of what he has to say:
I have been reading the debate . . . on "What next in Iraq?" ("Unilateral withdrawal? UN forces? Staying the course?") with great interest. There is a way, however, in which I am troubled by what I perceive as a tacit assumption--a very American assumption,--underlying most of the discussion. It seems to me that even pessimists" are actually "optimists": they assume that there exists in Iraq and the Gulf some "solution", some course of action which can actually lead to an outcome other than widespread, prolonged violence, with devastating economic, political, and social consequences.He goes on to detail some of his reasons (and manages to weave in the looming world oil crisis). He ends with this:
I regret to say that I think this is wrong. There is no "solution" to this mess; it is sometimes not possible to "fix" things which have been broken. I can see no course of action which will prevent widespread violence, regional social upheaval, and economic hammering administered by oil price shocks. This is why so many of us opposed the invasion of Iraq so strenuously in the first place! We thought that it would unleash irreversible adverse consequences for (conventionally defined) US interests in the region. I am very sorry to say that I still think we were right.
If we leave, there will be violence, mayhem, slaughter, and instability, and if we stay there will be violence, mayhem, slaughter, and instability. If there is (as I tend to think) a large crisis looming on the horizon, it will certainly be ugly, even hideous. And then-something else will happen. The one thing I don't think is possible is to avoid it.I really hope a rational and humane solution can be found to this mess, but I wonder if it's possible. Things necessarily may have to get worse before they get better. A bloody civil war in Iraq, spreading of terrorism from the failed state, disruption of tight oil supplies and an ever mounting American body count are likely in my estimation.
...I think it is delusional to imagine that there exists a "solution" to the mess in Iraq. From this perspective, the folly of Bush, Cheney and Company in invading Iraq is even worse than most informed observers of the region already think. Starting an avalanche is certainly criminal. It does not follow, however, that such a phenomenon can be stopped once it has begun.
Whether the worst comes to pass or not, whether this is indeed a good solution or not, those responsible for all this really need to be held accountable.