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McGovern & Polk: "Out of Iraq" (Simon & Schuster)

McGovern & Polk: "Out of Iraq" (Simon & Schuster)

TO: Distinguished Recipients
FM: John Whitbeck

In the article which I have just circulated, Chris Hedges cites several
times my distinguished recipient Bill Polk, whom he quite properly
characterizes as "one of the country's leading scholars on the Middle East".

Transmitted below is Simon & Schuster's release notice for Bill's new
book, co-written with George McGovern, which was published early this
month. Bill is currently on a book promotion tour of the United States.
The moment may finally be ripe for sensible alternatives.


A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now

By George S. McGovern and William R. Polk*

Former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern and veteran
Middle East expert William Polk call for a phased withdrawal of American
troops from Iraq to begin by December 31, 2006, and to be completed
within six months, in their new book, *OUT OF IRAQ: A Practical Plan for
Withdrawal Now* (Simon & Schuster; October 3, 2006; $15.00). McGovern
and Polk are blunt in their judgment – now shared by many senior
military commanders, intelligence officers, and diplomats – that the
Bush Administration’s decision to invade and occupy Iraq was a
“calamitous mistake.” They present an incisive analysis of the way they
believe Americans were misled into the Iraq war and assess the damage it
has caused to Americans, Iraqis, and U.S. standing in world affairs. But
their unique contribution to the ongoing debate about the war is a
highly specific, 24-point plan for how to stop the hemorrhaging and get
out of Iraq with the least possible human and financial cost.

McGovern and Polk write: “Changing a misguided course would not, as some
have charged, be a sign of weakness that would encourage our enemies and
dishearten our friends; rather, it would be a sign of strength and good
sense. It is neither wise nor patriotic to continue an ill-conceived
blunder that is wasting the lives of young American soldiers and Iraqi
civilians while threatening the moral and fiscal integrity of the nation
we all love. It is now a matter of great urgency, in the interests of
both the United States and Iraq, for us to begin systematically bringing
our troops home and starting the healing process.”

As the authors note, more than 2,500 Americans have been killed in Iraq,
more than 16,000 have been wounded, and more than 40,000 have suffered
severe psychological injury. No one knows how many Iraqi civilians have
been killed, but estimates run from 30,000 to 100,000. The war is
currently costing the United States $10 million per hour, $237 million
per day, $ 7 billion per month. According to the most comprehensive
estimates, the material costs of the war will ultimately reach about /$2
trillion /– about $8,000 for every man, woman, and child in America.

*How to Get Out of Iraq
*After more than three years of warfare and occupation in Iraq, a
graceful exit cannot be accomplished perfectly. Costs will have to be
paid, the authors warn. But the longer we delay in facing realities, the
higher those costs will be. Managing them is better than continuing to
incur more. To that end, McGovern and Polk lay out a detailed plan to
show how our exit could be accomplished in such a way as to minimize the
damage done both to Iraq and to America. The proposed steps include:

• *The withdrawal of all foreign troops, including our own.* Staying in
Iraq is not an option. Even among Americans who were the most eager to
invade Iraq, probably a majority now urge that we find a way out. They
include civilian strategists, senior military commanders and combat
soldiers. Withdrawal is not only a political imperative but also a
strategic requirement. As the American command and senior civil and
military officers have repeatedly admitted, Iraq has become the primary
recruiting and training ground for terrorists. McGovern and Polk suggest
that phased withdrawal should begin on or before December 31, 2006, with
a promise to make every effort to complete it by June 30, 2007.

• *The Iraqi government would be wise to request the short-term services
of an international force, including Arab and Muslim troops, to police
the country during and immediately after the period of American

• *If requested, America should do all it can to assist the Iraqi
government in creating and training a national police force during the
period of withdrawal.* The authors suggest that the American withdrawal
package should include a provision of $1 billion for this purpose –
roughly the cost of four days of the American occupation.

• *The United States should immediately release all prisoners of war to
the Iraqi government and close its detention centers.*

• *America should not encourage Iraq to reconstitute a large, heavily
armed military. *In the past, Iraqi armies have been a threat to civil
institutions rather than a defense force. America cannot prevent the
reconstitution of an Iraqi army, but it should not, as it is currently
doing, encourage it at an estimated cost of $2.2 billion.

• *The withdrawal of American forces must include immediate cessation of
work on U.S. military bases.* Fourteen “enduring bases” for American
troops are now under construction in Iraq. The largest five are already
massive, amounting to virtual cities. Closing the bases is doubly
important: for America, they are expensive and will be redundant; for
Iraqis, they symbolize a hated occupation and would prevent any Iraqi
government from feeling independent. Absent an American withdrawal and
deactivation of the military bases, the insurgency will almost certainly

• *The U.S., along with its embassy, should withdraw from the Green
Zone, the vast American complex in the center of Baghdad. *

• *At least 25,000 mercenaries (euphemistically known as Personal
Security Detail) are now active in Iraq, provided by a whole new
industry of more than 50 "security" firms. They must be withdrawn
rapidly and completely.* Although hired either directly or indirectly
with U.S. government funds, these men operate outside the control of the
British and American armies and are not subject to Iraqi justice; they
are literally the "loose cannons" of the Iraq war. The way to withdraw
them is simple: stop the payments we make to them.

• *The United States must assist the Iraqis in digging up and destroying
land mines and unexploded ordnance, and in cleaning up depleted uranium
in artillery shells and their targets.*

• *America should make a generous contribution toward the rebuilding of
the Iraqi infrastructure destroyed during the war, the value of which
has been estimated at between $100 billion and $200 billion.*

• *The U.S. should aid in the repair of damage to Iraqi cultural sites
like Babylon by U.S. military facilities.*

• *The United States should pay for an independent audit of billions of
dollars generated by the sale of Iraqi petroleum that was turned over to
the American-run Coalition Provisional Authority for the benefit of the
Iraqi people. Much of this money, along with other funds paid to
American contractors, has been misused or misappropriated.*

• *America should make reparations to Iraqi civilians for loss of lives
and property it caused in the war and during the occupation.* Possible
compensation for deaths and grievous wounds would add up to the cost of
about three days of the American occupation of Iraq, but it would make
an enormous difference in Iraqi attitudes toward the United States.

• *The United States should encourage with large-scale assistance
various UN agencies as well as non-governmental organizations to help
reconstitute the devastated Iraqi public health system.*

• *Finally, America should express its condolences for the large number
of Iraqis killed, incapacitated, incarcerated and/or tortured.* This
gesture may seem difficult to many Americans, but it would do more to
assuage the sense of hurt in Iraq than all of the above actions.

McGovern and Polk estimate that the cost of the programs they propose
might total roughly $13.25 billion. Assuming that these programs save
America two years of occupation, they would offset expenditures of at
least $350 billion and more likely $400 billion to $500 billion. Much
more important but of incalculable value are the savings to be measured
in what otherwise are likely to be large numbers of shattered bodies and
lost lives.

*“We are not recommending ‘cut and run’”*
*The authors write: “Let us be absolutely clear: we are not recommending
what opponents of withdrawal call ‘cut and run.’ What we are proposing
will avoid the danger of being forced out; rather, American forces will
leave in an orderly way, on a reasonable schedule and in a manner that
will prevent further damage to American interests. Withdrawal will cause
some damage. But damage is inevitable, no matter if we stay or leave.”

McGovern and Polk are particularly alarmed by the prospect of what has
been called the “long war” against the “universal enemy,” now being
advocated by some neoconservatives and others who refuse to recognize
that the Iraq war has been a terrible miscalculation. This is a recipe
for disaster, say McGovern and Polk, that could bring upon us, our
children and our grandchildren the nightmare described by George Orwell
in his novel /1984/. Then we would not even know for what or against
whom we were fighting, but we would be in danger of losing the very
things we were supposedly fighting to preserve.

*OUT OF IRAQ* puts forth a clear, responsible and practical plan for
getting out of America’s most excruciating conflict since Vietnam, from
one of our most respected statesmen and a leading international policy
expert. The systematic and sensible program for a speedy troop
withdrawal from Iraq that millions of Americans have been waiting for,
it is certain both to spark controversy and to advance discussion of the
issue that has become the central concern of our national life.


George S. McGovern*, the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in
1972, served in the House of Representatives from 1957 to 1961, ran the
Food for Peace Program under President Kennedy and served in the Senate
for eighteen years. He was the president of the Middle East Policy
Council in Washington, D.C., for six years, and then served as
ambassador to the UN Agencies on Food and Agriculture in Rome under
President Clinton. He holds the Distinguished Flying Cross for service
as a bomber pilot in World War II and the Presidential Medal of Freedom
for humanitarian service. He has homes in South Dakota and Montana.

*William R. Polk* studied at Harvard and Oxford and taught at Harvard
until he was appointed the member of the State Department’s Policy
Planning Council responsible for the Middle East in 1961. He served as
head of the interdepartmental task force on the Algerian war and was a
member of the crisis management subcommittee during the Cuban missile
crisis. In 1965, he became professor of history at the University of
Chicago and founded its Middle Eastern Studies Center. In 1967, he
became president of the Adlai Stevenson Institute of International
Affairs. At the request of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, he
negotiated a ceasefire between Israel and Egypt in 1970. In 1972, he
founded a consulting and investment company. The author of several books
on history, international relations and the Middle East, he now lives
and writes in the south of France.

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