So finally, a war supporter, albeit a former one, proposes something kind of like an exit strategy. George Packer argues that we should stay long enough to get exit visas those Iraqis who helped the U.S.:
Those Iraqis who have had anything to do with the occupation and its promises of democracy will be among the first to be killed: the translators, the government officials, the embassy employees, the journalists, the organizers of women’s and human rights groups….
If the United States leaves Iraq, our last shred of honor and decency will require us to save as many of these Iraqis as possible. In June, a U.S. Embassy cable about the lives of the Iraqi staff was leaked to The Washington Post. Among many disturbing examples of intimidation and fear was this sentence: “In March, a few staff approached us to ask what provisions would we make for them if we evacuate.” The cable gave no answer. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad does not issue visas….
We should start issuing visas in Baghdad, as well as in the regional embassies in Mosul, Kirkuk, Hilla, and Basra. We should issue them liberally, which means that we should vastly increase our quota for Iraqi refugees. (Last year, it was fewer than 200.) We should prepare contingency plans for massive airlifts and ground escorts. We should be ready for desperate and angry crowds at the gates of the Green Zone and U.S. bases. We should not allow wishful thinking to put off these decisions until it’s too late. We should not compound our betrayals of Iraqis who put their hopes in our hands.
It sounds like the right thing to do. Unfortunately, it would require an administration that had the wherewithal and competence to conceive and carry out such a plan. Got FEMA? It would also require that the Bush administration would actually care about the welfare of others, rather than be composed of sociopaths and crazed ideologues. Packer is right, but I hope this just doesn’t become another Pretty Pony plan that leads to even more delay.