‘Plan B’ for Iraq situation


Fundamental questions regarding Iraq facing the President, the Congress and the American people are: What can be done so that U.S. troops do not leave Iraq, creating a military vacuum, and what can be done so that the U.S. troops do not stay in Iraq any longer than absolutely necessary.

Many Republican and Democratic members of Congress have been asking for a Plan B to take place after the surge. This is a possible Plan B.

A large number of the Iraqi people took the risk of participating in three elections. Many Iraqi leaders took the risk of participating in the present Iraqi government. If the U.S. troops were to leave Iraq, and nothing were done to keep a military vacuum from being created, there will most probably be, for those Iraqis who took the risk of voting, and for those Iraqis who took the risk of participating in the present Iraqi government, a widespread bloodbath, which will engulf the entire nation.

Iran will most probably move to increase its presence and connection with its co-religionist Iraqi Shia. Saudi Arabia has already indicated it will take steps necessary to protect its co-religionist Iraqi Sunnis. There is a good possibility that Iraqi and Turkish Kurds will act to increase their relationship in a manner to which Turkey will object and most probably resist.

The region, accordingly, could become aflame. Because of the continued reliance of countries outside the region on oil, there is the strong possibility some of those countries will act by force so as not to let the region disintegrate and their oil supply be threatened. The United States, still also dependent on oil from the region, will, foreseeably, not stand idly by.

The continued U.S. military presence in Iraq may be a disincentive for the Iraqi government to act as vigorously as it might to quell the existing political differences and fighting. The continued U.S. military presence in Iraq is seen by many within Iraq and within the region as an occupation, not a befriendment. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, a country which has been a traditional close ally of the United States, recently called the U.S. presence in Iraq, “an illegal foreign occupation,” as he opened a two-day summit in Riyadh of the Arab League on Mar. 28.

Through custom and usage, the practice has, commendably, developed that when a nation moves militarily into another nation, such as in Afghanistan and Iraq, there is a responsibility not to leave the country immediately, and to help the country get back on its feet.

A United States military presence in Iraq, more than four years, longer than the duration of World War II, and with the deaths of over 3,700 U.S. military men and women, and the wounding of thousands of others, fully meets this responsibility.

The United Nations Security Council is empowered, and, has, as its most important reason for existence, to address and deal with exactly this type of situation. While a U.S. public delegate and alternative representative of the United States in 2000-2001, under the outstanding leadership of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, I attended many public and non-public meetings of the Security Council. I found it to be a more deliberative body than many have thought it to be.

In September, the final assessment of the result of the surge will take place. The purpose of the surge was to buy additional time so that the Iraqi government could during that period improve the political situation in Iraq.

The non-Iraqi hostile forces such as Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Iraq, it is clear since 9/11, pose very serious threats not only to Iraq, and to the United States, but also to nations of the region, to members of the Security Council and to members of the United Nations.

On Sept. 25, President George W. Bush will address the United Nations General Assembly. This would be an opportune time, coinciding as it does with the final assessment of the surge, for the President to make a statement to the General Assembly along the following lines:

“Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates, and Ladies and Gentlemen.

“I join you today, on behalf of the United States, with the following important message.

“In consultation with the leaders of the Congress of the United States, our Coalition partners, and the government of Iraq, I have decided that the United States will at this time begin to reduce our United States military presence in Iraq. Each of the Coalition nations will make its own decision as to the duration of its presence in Iraq.

“With the continued invitation of the Iraqi government, the United States will continue to offer military and other personnel in Iraq to assist it in training of Iraqi military and police personnel, border control, and to deter the actions of Al Qaeda and other non-Iraqi terrorist organizations.

“The United States will continue to give strong protection and deterrence in our country, and assistance to our other allies in the region, against Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

“With the approval of the Congress of the United States, I felt it was necessary to come to grips with the murderous actions of the government of Saddam Hussein to the Iraqi people, his hostile acts and threats to Iraq’s neighboring countries and other countries in its region, and to the grave and growing danger he and his government constituted to the United States, to act, with our Coalition allies, to bring about the end of the Saddam Hussein regime.

“This was carried out with speed and effectiveness, and with as little loss of life of the American and Coalition forces, and, importantly, of the Iraqi people, as possible.

“Thereafter, with the impressive participation of the Iraqi people and Iraqi leaders, remarkable positive events have taken place. Three elections with extremely large turnouts of the Iraqi people have taken place. An Iraqi constitution has been developed. A new government came into being. I believe all of the events are outstanding achievements of which the Iraqi people and Iraqi leaders can be very proud.

“The functioning and effective actions of a new government take time, as we all have seen in the early days of the United States and in many other countries. Clearly, important developments of a new government do not take place overnight.

“We ask that the United Nations, through the Security Council, with the full participation of the United States as a Security Council member, to immediately consider and take action so that a military vacuum is not permitted to develop in Iraq.

“I have instructed our Representative, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, to bring the beginning of the reduction of United States military presence in Iraq to the attention of the Security Council.”

In Article 24 of the UN Charter, the 192 members of the United Nations “confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the Security Council acts on their behalf.”

Furthermore, under Article 34 of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council may not only investigate any dispute, it may investigate “any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute in order to determine whether the continuation of the dispute or situation is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security.”

Under Article 33, it may call upon parties to a dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, to seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means. At any stage of a dispute, the Security Council, under Article 36, may recommend appropriate methods of resolution of the problem.

In addition, under Articles 41 and 42, the Security Council may call upon the members of the United Nations to bring about interruption of economic relations, or, if necessary, “take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or resolve international peace and security.” The Security Council is already playing a role in Iraq. As pointed out on page 31 of The Iraq Study Group Report, “The United Nations — acting under Security Council Resolution 1546 — has a small presence in Iraq; it has assisted in holding elections, drafting the constitution, organizing the government, and building institutions.”

The United States, in the past several months, has, importantly, taken an active role as a member of the Security Council, and the Security Council has acted effectively, often unanimously.

Recently, with U.S. full participation, the Security Council, on Aug. 14, in Resolution 1701, significantly, brought about a cease fire to the hostilities which had taken place for weeks between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

More recently, on Dec. 23, 2006, the United States and other Members of the Security Council unanimously approved sanctions to curb Iran’s nuclear program. The Resolution, under Article 41 of the UN Charter, was prepared by Germany, and all five of the Security Council’s permanent members, the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, and China. It barred the import and export by Iran of materials and technology used in uranium enrichment, reprocessing, and ballistic missiles.

In March 2007, the Security Council imposed more stringent sanctions on Iran to press it to suspend uranium enrichment. All 15 members of the Security Council adopted the sanctions, in Resolution 1747.

Also, in March 2007, Russia gave Iran an ultimatum on uranium enrichment. It informed Iran that it would withhold nuclear fuel for Iran’s nearly completed Bushehr power plant unless Iran suspended its uranium enrichment as demanded by the UN Security Council. Very recently, on Tuesday, July 31, the Security Council, by a 15-0 unanimous vote, authorized a UN Peacekeeping Operation to deploy to Darfur to protect civilians and aid workers in Sudan’s conflict ridden region.

On Friday, Aug. 10, the Security Council unanimously approved a resolution which “broadened the United Nations mandate in Iraq to include efforts to promote national reconciliation, help settle border disputes, encourage internal dialogue and lay the groundwork for a national consensus.”

U.S. Ambassador Khalilzad, in a statement after the vote, said: “This updated mandate marks another important step along the road to increased support for Iraq from the region and the international community.”

On Tuesday, Aug. 21, the new Foreign Minister of France, Bernard Kouchner, said the time has come for France, and Europe, to play a greater role in Iraq.

He said: “I believe this is the moment. Everybody knows the Americans will not be able to get this country out of difficulty alone.”

As former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger used to say, when asked whether the foreign policy of a country, such as the former Soviet Union, would change when a head of state died, the country will continue to act in what it determines to be its national interest.

Regardless of whether they favored, disfavored, or were neutral about the U.S. entry into Iraq, if members of the Security Council see a real and present danger to each of their national interests, they will, hopefully, act responsibly to take action.

This would be a means by which the United States, acting with other Security Council members, can continue to assist Iraq to develop an effective government and peace and stability.

If the President, in his address on Sept. 25 to the General Assembly of the United Nations, were to make clear the above action the U.S. will take in Iraq, the nations of the region, and the nations of the world, through the UN Security Council, will have serious, immediate reasons to consider and take responsible action.

Larry Carp is a St. Louis attorney who served as a U.S. public delegate and alternative representative of the United States to the Fifty-Fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2000-2001, appointed by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the Senate.