Rethinking Iraq: A Debate Among Progressives

On Jan. 6, AlterNet ran a provocative piece by Senior Editor Lakshmi Chaudhry in which she questioned the wisdom of the call to immediately withdraw American troops from Iraq. Chaudhry asserted that we should consider the moral issues of immediate withdrawal, perhaps instead "transfer[ring] the control of Iraq to a truly multinational force entrusted with the humanitarian task of rebuilding the nation and helping the Iraqi people gain control over their future."

The piece set off a lively debate, and here we offer responses from four leading progressives who have strong feelings about how to get out of Iraq: Tom Hayden, foreign policy analyst Erik Leaver, author Jonathan Schell and Kamil Mahdi, a U.K.-based Iraqi intellectual. Taken together, they represent the first public debate over goals, strategy, and tactics within the anti-war movement since the 2004 elections.

Read the piece that started the debate, "Rethinking Iraq."

Tom Hayden says that the occupation itself is the chief cause of the insurgency and the upcoming elections are the cause of the impending civil war.

Jonathan Schell believes that no foreign power, not even the world's sole superpower, can create democracy in Iraq.

Kamil Mahdi says that Iraqi resistance and public awareness of neocon designs for empire will bring the occupation to an end – not the anti-war movement.

Erik Leaver says that in order to succeed, the anti-war movement has to answer the big question: what role should the U.S. be playing in the world?

In response, Lakshmi Chaudhry says that we control the country at this time, and so we must be the ones to come up with a plan to transfer control to an Iraqi-led process that has international support and financing.

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