Edit: This post is sort of a re-thought-through proposal to deal with the Iraqi occupation that I had replied to a thread at Daisy Cutter (a rather interesting and thought-provoking blog from a decidely right-wing point of view). Since that post was more in the veins of improbability and possibly insanity that I would like to pass off as "literary license" in the sense of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal, and yet tempered with the probability that it would be the exact sort of outcome that Iran might have in mind for (Sunnis and Kurds in) Iraq if we withdrew…
…following is the "kindler, gentler, and probably much more easy to implement" version of my proposal:
Why don’t we call a dead horse dead… and prepare a workable exit strategy for what is left of Iraq.
Not necessarily a total unilateral withdrawal, but rather to do to Iraq what should have been done from Day One after Mr. Bush said "Mission Accomplished" (in reference to subduing Saddam’s Baathist regime).
First the bitter pill…
It would have to get a whole lot worse before things get better, particularly for the Iraqi peoples. Withdrawal would happen as soon as some in our government would like, and certainly would not be an immediate one. In fact, our presence there may well increase on the short run, as well as see more casualties… but only for a short time as needed to put the region thoroughly under the boot to ensure cooperation by the Iraqi resident population. As it stands, the only thing that the resident Jihadist enemies understand is overwhelming force. Like any fanatic, death may well be the only cure for them.
… then the final curtain: Partition Iraq.
When the Allies partioned up the remains of Nazi Germany, the running idea of the Morgenthau Plan was to have divided it into two zones - a North Germany consisting of mostly Prussian Länder and a southern German state consisting of the Rhineland-Pfalz, Bavaria, and bits of Thuringen and Hessen. A substantial part of the Rhineland and the Saarland were to be annexed to France… other minor bits were to be annexed to Poland and Czechoslovakia, with an "International Zone" taking a decent sized slice out of Ruhr Industrial Belt. Thus were the two Germanies forever to be kept in economic bondage to the Allied powers, never to rise again to economic, much less military dominance again.
Of course, that idea turned out to be rather bad, as having a crippled Germany would have bred much resentment, as well as proving to starve many Germans to a level of subsistence which was actually worse, in some cases, than the caloric intake of the average concentration camp prisoner (calculations were done to the effect that the average adult German in 1947 was living on about 1,000 calories per day). And with the Soviet Cold War on the horizon, some other things had to be thought of.
Fortunately, the Marshall Plan was approved over the Morgenthau Plan - and the French, US, and British zones of occupations eventually merged to become West Germany, and the Soviet sector became East Germany.
In due course, the German Economic Miracle or Wirstschaftswunder led to (West) Germany becoming the economic engine of Europe.
Suppose a similar thing can be done with Iraq -divide up the country along ethnic lines, and you have the following:
Kurdistan - composed of the Kurds and the minority Turkoman, Assyrian, and Chaldean populations. Kurdistan would more or less be expected to thirve as its own nation, likely never to be re-integrated into a proper Iraq at any time in the future. The national industry would be centered around oil, and its governement at the capital, Mosul. Already ethnically stable (the Kurds actively discourage Arabs of either Shia or Sunni faiths to engage in activities in Kurdsh territories), the USA would need only have to keep a token force there (at Kurdistan’s will) to further discourage agitation from Turkey, Iran, Syria, or the other Iraqi Arabs. A healthy dose of American and British economic aid and incentives, as well as industrial development, would help to keep Kurdistan more or less aligned with Western interests.
East Iraq, capitaled at Basra, would be home to the Shia Iraqis. Due to the very significant agitation against American occupation forces in this region, the United Kingdom would be invited to assume direct control over this territory until a Shiite, but "secular" (that is, not run by Muqtada-Al-Sadr or his cronies) government can be constituted. In all likelihood, this would eventually become a Shiite Islamic Republic after the fashion of Iran. UK forces would be given a five-year timeframe to drawdown thier forces there, after establishing a Shiite police force and army capable of supressing the mullahs.
West Iraq would therefore become home to the remaining Sunni population of Iraq, and would fall under direct American control. In like fashion, a secularized Sunni government with police and army manned by Sunni Iraqis would work in concert with American forces to eliminate or suppress extremist elements within West Iraq. A possible candidate for the West Iraqi capital would be the city of Ramadi (along the Tigris River).
Both US/UK forces would work to relocate the Shiite and Sunni populations of key trouble cities such as Fallujah and Baghdad into thier respective territories. Baghdad, as a political entity, would cease to exist.
Since eliminating sectarian violence has proven to be virtually impossible at this point, I would think that the removal of its population and the razing of the city to dust would be best: demolition of all existing population centers and religious buildings (regardless of sect). The Baathist-era buildings would be reduced in number, save for what is minimally necessary for the US and UK administration… upon withdrawal of US/UK forces in time, those buildings would also be demolished. All titles and deeds to lands within Baghdad city limits would be declared null and void, and new deeds issued to agricultural cooperatives which are vetted by the US/UK administration.
Whatever remained would be held under joint US/UK jurisdiction, as an administrative centre for the DMZ (demilitarized zone) between East and West Iraqs. It could be renamed as an "Central Iraqi Co-Develepoment Zone", to be developd along with international (presumably those companies which are friendly to Western interests) with a provision for returning it to a future re-unifed Iraqi state, or ceding it to West Iraq (since it will be at a distinct disadvantage economically as far as access to oil revenue is concerned).
The Demilitarized Zone
A zone of severely restricted activity shall exist within a ten-mile distance of ether side of a border between West and East Iraqs. For all practical purposes, this area would be managed as a police state.
Distilled to its basic purpose, it is a "no man’s land that would be systemically depopulated and demolished. The resident populations would be moved, or if they resist, they would be classified as enemy combatants and subsequently exterminated. The US/UK forces would patrol this area, detaining (if they surrender willingly) or killing (if they resist) anyone that moved through the area, no questions asked.
Drawdown of forces
The plan for withdrawal, or at least a drawdown of forces, would involve a gradual loosening of restrictions within both East and West Iraq as the populations prove to be engaged in a more normal and peaceable conduct of daily life. Some external control of religious activities might include sponsoring Western-taught (or at least influnced) clerical authorities who will take steps to preach a variety of Islam that has been cleansed of its Jihadist influences, particularly with a revised Koran that is vetted by the Occupation forces.
Both East and West Iraq would be assigned constitutions after the fashion of the MacArthur Constitution which was imposed upon Japan during its occupation from 1945-1952.
The goal of these constitutions would be allow for a secular government in both countries. In practice, the Shia mullahs and the Sunni clerics would still have considerable weight in political affairs, as well as existing tribal factions. The key to dealing with these parties is to give them conditional empowerment, much like some of the old zaibatsu and some of the previous nobility in Japan were empowered. The conditions, of course, rest upon thier willingness to serve Western interests of eventually growing the two Iraqs to become partners with other civilized nations in the world. In turn, the DMZ would also contract and begin to have less severe restrictions on traffic and settlement of communities within its area, especially if a door to reunification looked ready to open.
Gradually, US and UK forces would reduce both thier control and presence in the region as the two Iraqs act as responsible members of the world community.