Ceasefire in Iraq Now

Northanger left a comment in my last post (i think this is the first time i've ever heard anyone use the word "ceasefire" for the Iraq war) that made me ashamed. I haven’t paid the attention to the War that I normally do. At least, I haven’t been writing the war posts. This is due to fatigue. But let’s say a few things here.

- I have no doubt that there will be American troops in Iraq in 2009.
- While it is a good idea to demand the unrealistic – withdrawal of American troops now – there should be a broadening of unrealistic demands. As I’ve said over and over, in LI’s view, politics is about setting conditions. Or at least, the kind of politics LI can do. Movement politics.
- The unrealism is wholly political, and has nothing to do with American or Iraqi 'security'. The political elite in this country have a death grip on their favorite mistake. See the Washington Post editorial yesterday on Iraq. There is no one way to break that death grip. But it is important to see that the reality of it consists in its absolute refusal to face reality.
- And as important as withdrawing the troops is the demand for a ceasefire.
- A ceasefire would be about two things. First, freezing in place the current state of Iraq. Government troops would not try to oust Sunni insurgents in Anbar. American soldiers would not move into any more neighborhoods in Baghdad or elsewhere. Negotiations with only two conditions: no aggressive moves, and self-policing, should begin. All participants (unfortunately but realistically, this would even include Americans) should be invited to make their cases. Self policing would be an opportunity for all forces, insurgent, shi’ite militia, government police, to purge the ranks of criminals.
- Finally, the government should be willing to consider major changes to its organization. The clearly illegal constitution shouldn’t, in other words, get in the way of real peace talks.

There are plenty of things to criticize about the specifics of the ceasefire as outlined above, but none of them vitiate the need for a ceasefire. A ceasefire would, actually, condition an American exit. I don’t see an exit without one. It would allow the Iraqis, who overwhelmingly want the Americans to leave, to get their wish.