Tuesday, June 10, 2008

From American Conservative Magazine:

The Road to Kuwait

Iraq War advocates overstate the difficulties of withdrawal.

by Lawrence Korb

Any doubts about whether the United States should begin to withdraw completely from Iraq’s multiple internal conflicts should have been dispelled by the recent testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker and the Iraqi government’s foray into Basra.

Neither the general nor the ambassador could say how and when American involvement will end, or why the Iraqi government is not making meaningful political progress. The best example of progress that Crocker could point to was agreement on a new national flag. General Petraeus kept repeating that the security environment was fragile, uneven, and reversible. He could not give a satisfactory answer to the question of whether the war in Iraq is making us safer.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s ill-timed and ham-handed invasion of Basra showed that his dysfunctional and corrupt government is primarily interested in improving his own electoral prospects against Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The Iraqi Security Forces, moreover, performed so poorly—many deserted—that the U.S. was forced to intervene in this Shia civil war to prevent Maliki’s government from collapsing. In the process, U.S. forces killed hundreds of Iraqis, undermined the counterinsurgency strategy, and gave Sadr the justification to end his ceasefire. Finally, Iran enhanced its strategic position by brokering a truce between the warring Shi’ite leaders.

Yet when people argue that the U.S. should withdraw expeditiously, those like President Bush and Senator McCain who support an endless military commitment raise three objections: it cannot be done quickly; the situation will go to hell in a hand-basket when we leave; and our military commanders will oppose it. Each of these points is without merit...[Open in new window]


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