Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Iraq Politics: Here & There

Max Boot:
"An article in USA Today reported on a Pentagon-funded study which confirms what military historians already know--an average insurgency can run for a decade, but most fail in the end. Translation: If we're going to be successful in Iraq, we're going to have to make a long-term commitment. That doesn't mean 170,000 U.S. combat troops stationed there for 10 years, but it does mean a substantial force--tens of thousands of soldiers--will be needed for many years to come. If we're planning to start withdrawing in September 2007--or even September 2008--we might as well run up the white flag now and let the great Iraqi civil war unfold in all its horror."
Slow progress toward an acceptable modus vivendi may still be possible as long as the U.S. doesn't insist on artificial timetables to resolve complex and emotional issues. What incentive do Iraqi politicians have to make compromises if they think that American troops are heading out the door? If that's the case, Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds would be well advised to avoid making any concessions that would strengthen their mortal enemies. Thus all the talk in Washington about troop withdrawals has the opposite effect from what is intended. Instead of spurring Iraqi politicians to compromise, it leads them to be more obdurate.
I'm not so sure all the talk in Washington is intended to spur on Iraqi politicians and influence Iraqi politics. Instead I think the talk in Washington is primarily intended to influence our own election politics. But, I do agree with Boot's suggestion that the politics in Washington creates incentives for people in Iraq to hedge their bets with respect to which force will ultimately emerge as the long-term government of Iraq.

What do those in Washington who are pulling for withdrawal of our forces predict is likely to happen with that withdrawal? What is the future they see for Iraq if our forces are withdrawn prior to our next Presidential election? Max Boot writes a bit about what he thinks might happen, and you should read the rest of his commentary to get that picture. I don't think the proponents of withdrawal talk much about the future they picture for Iraq with our near-term withdrawal. I wonder if that is because the picture Boot paints is something like the picture they see as well?

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