Democratic Party éminences grises George McGovern and William R. Polk have written a book, Out of Iraq. A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now. It will be out shortly. They published an excerpt article in the October issue of Harpers magazine which is unfortunately not available online yet but the Prairie Weather blog is helping us out:
... that phased withdrawal should begin on or before December 31, 2006, with the promise to make every effort to complete it by June 30, 2007.
The decision to withdraw at least does not call for additional expenditures. On the contrary, it will effect massive savings. Current U.S. expenditures run at approximately $246 million each day, or more than $10 million an hour, with costs rising steadily each year.
... the Iraqi government would be wise to request the temporary services of an international stabilization force to police the country during and immediately after the period of American withdrawal. ... We imagine that the Iraqi government, and the Iraqi people, would find the composition of such a force most acceptable if it were drawn from Arab or Muslim countries.... It would benefit both Iraq and the United States if we were to pay for this force. Assuming that a ballpark figure would be $500 per man per day, and that 15,000 men would be required for two years, the overall cost would be $5.5 billion. That is approximately 3 percent of what it would cost to continue the war, with American troops, for the next two years.
This is what they propose regarding archaeology:
Removal of military facilities from cultural sites
Astonishingly, one American camp was built on top of the Babylon archaeological site, where American troops flattened and compressed ancient ruins in order to create a helicopter pad and fueling stations. Soldiers filled sandbags with archaeological fragments and dug trenches through unexcavated areas while tanks crushed 2,600-year-old pavements. Babylon was not the only casualty. The 5,000-year-old site at Kish was also horribly damaged. We need to understand that Iraq, being a seedbed of Western civilization, is a virtual museum. It is hard to put a spade into the earth there without disturbing a part of our shared cultural heritage. We suggest that America set up a fund of, say, $750 million, or three days' cost of the war, to be administered by an ad-hoc committee drawn from the Iraqi National Museum of Antiquities or the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, the British Museum, the World Monuments Fund, the Smithsonian Institution, and what is perhaps America's most prestigious archaeological organization, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, to assist in the restoration of sites American troops have damaged. We should not wish to go down in history as yet another barbarian invader of the land long referred to as the cradle of civilization.
• "Just published: Detailed, positive and authoritative Democratic plan for withdrawal from Iraq," in Prairie Weather, online, September 17, 2006
September 28, 2006