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The Way Out of Iraq

At last the point has been reached in Iraq where everyone ostensibly wants the same thing: the departure of Coalition forces from the country. The recent leak from Britain’s Ministry of Defense of a discussion paper on troop withdrawal highlights this desire. The only question is how to satisfy it.

As long as the Coalition forces stay, violence is likely to escalate. But if they leave, it will also escalate, only faster. So the real question is how to get to the point where Iraq has a police force and army that can be trusted to maintain law as well as order.

Much ground must be covered to get anywhere close. Notwithstanding the courage of the many Iraqis who join either the army or the police, no one should be surprised if some have motives that are less than pure. In northern Iraq, old scores are being settled and de facto ethnic segregation is being introduced in areas, such as Irbil, that were traditionally diverse. In other areas, sharia law is being introduced by force.

So how can Iraq create uniformed services that can be trusted to enforce the law effectively and impartially, without consideration of ethnicity, religion and gender? The traditional answer is to recruit, train, and instill the “right values.” But there is not enough time for that. Other ways are needed.