Pack Up And Go?

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Few events excite New York's intelligentsia like The New Yorker Festival, "a weekend-long celebration of arts and ideas." (Where else can Seymour Hersh mingle with John C. Reilly?) Last year, when I lived in New York, I bought a ticket to "Islam and the West," a panel discussion at The Town Hall, in Midtown, moderated by George Packer, of The New Yorker magazine. For two hours, he orchestrated a lively, illuminating conversation with Omar Ahmad, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote Infidel; Mahmood Mamdani, a professor at Columbia University; Azar Nafisi, the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran; Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, who teaches at Emory University; and Lawrence Wright, Packer's colleague. I was so impressed with Packer's intelligence and eloquence, and his ability to corral a rowdy crowd of the New York intelligentsia I mentioned earlier, that I bought — and read — his most-recent book, The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq, almost immediately. (In New York, bookstores are open late). In the last year, Packer has written several strong pieces on Iraq, including a stunning article about Iraqi translators. And he has a new blog. His most recent story, "Planning for Defeat," is fascinating. By his estimation, a withdrawal of American troops is inevitable, and we need to give some serious thought to the geopolitical ramifications of our exit from Iraq. He'll join us to talk about the politics of withdrawal, in the first hour. What do you think is the best way to leave Iraq? And what do you think will happen when we do?



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No matter what course is selected in Iraq, the Federal government should immediately implement a 10% emergency war-funding sur-tax on high earners (over $500,000). This temporary tax would be lifted or lowerred in proportion to the amounts budgetted for the Iraq occupation.

Sent by Michael Murphy | 3:02 PM | 9-12-2007

It is hard to determine who has less credibility: the liars in the government, the Neo Con fools fighting wars from the safety of their think tanks or the "intelligencia" like Mr Packer who have been talking endlessly about this mess. Almost all the predictions and estimations about the war have been wrong. Why should anyone believe anything they say now? Why should anyone sacrifice their life or their childrens life because of some wild estimation of a what might happen if we leave? If Mr Packer or the Brookings Institute or anyone else thinks we should stay, they need to drop the pen, pick up the gun and go.

And maybe it is time to question the received wisdom that our pull out would be a horrendous disaster and that since we have made the mess it is our duty to stay and keep it messy. Wars, both civil and uncivil, have been going on for as long as we have been keeping track. Now the USA has decided it is our job to charge in and "prevent" the violence, usually by killing people on both sides and in the middle. Maybe our hyper-media culture has made every conflict such a world shattering event that we cannot just let people decide for themselve who will govern them. Let the Iraqi's decide. I think the world will survive.

Sent by George from Oregon | 3:17 PM | 9-12-2007

U.S. out of Iraq, now. War crime trials for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, et al.

Sent by Bob Brister | 6:41 PM | 9-12-2007

I've been thinking about the idea Reagan taught the Mujahideen (sp?) of how to bring down and defeat a superpower, the USSR, by getting them militarily bogged down for years in Afghanistan, spending their blood and treasure until they're bankrupt and worn out and I wonder if the rest of the world also learned that lesson, specifically Saddam Hussein and what remained of the terrorists that Reagan trained, Al Qaeda.

Hussein would have known he had no chance against the US Military and could have set up the Reagan strategy to be used as what the CIA calls blowback against the occupiers of Iraq. And if any Al Qaeda jumped on that bandwagon, well, you'd have the Cheney/Bush/PNAC debacle in Iraq.

It sure seems to pass "the duck test."

Pulling out might leave a massacre but staying in surely has to called a massacre with over 700,000 dead, uncounted wounded, and millions of refugees displaced.

I don't think Cheney/Bush/PNAC knows when to fold 'em, they're throwing good soldiers and money after what's gone terribly bad.

They've been defeated by the Reagan strategy.

Sent by Tom D Ford | 6:53 PM | 9-13-2007