September 27, 2004

CLARIFY THE LINES (via Robert Schwartz):

What if America Just Pulled Out? (ROGER COHEN, 9/26/04, NY Times)

A decision to withdraw would focus the minds of Iraqis, and perhaps their neighbors, on the need to grapple seriously with establishing security and an inclusive political system. It would also remove a chief target of the insurgents - American infidels in uniform - and so presumably undermine their cause.

"A withdrawal plan says to the Iraqis: you want this to be your country, you must make the deals to keep it together," said Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. "If we are there to fight, they won't do this. So a timetable should be established."

But the counterarguments are also powerful. Withdrawal in the absence of stability would amount to a devastating admission of failure and a blow to America's world leadership. The credibility of the United States, already compromised, would be devastated. More than 1,000 young lives would appear to have been blotted out for naught.

Iraq might descend into all-out civil war and split into three pieces, one Kurdish, one Shiite, one predominantly Sunni.

The important thing here is that both the best case scenario--the Sunni triangle quieting down once we leave--and the worst case--open civil war between Shi'a and Sunni--are favorable to us.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 27, 2004 12:05 PM

Favorable if the playing field is even. The problem is the Sunnis may try to bring in a few ringers to slant the game in their direction if we pulled out completely (From a Red Sox fan's prospective, try to imagine George Steinbernner in a baseball world with no oversight at all)

Posted by: John at September 27, 2004 12:24 PM


We wouldn't. We'd let them get up and running and then crush them once they'd organized in the open for us.

Posted by: oj at September 27, 2004 12:31 PM

Since the CW is that there will be no assault on Falluja untill after the US election. I am predicitng that a full scale assault will be launched in mid October. It will break the back of the Sunni insurgency. The air raids of the last couple of weeks are the softening up. Also look for a commando raid to pick off Zarqaui.

Also Note "18:04 Initial report: Pakistani security forces capture Osama bin Laden`s deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri" from Haaretz News Flashes.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at September 27, 2004 1:16 PM

If it gets to civil war -- it's probably just about there already -- it won't be two-sided.

The democratic Shia -- assuming for the moment the counterfactual that they even exist -- are unlikely to be winners.

The Iranians will make the hay, and while I consider them Shia, I don't imagine them to be democratic. Orrin doesn't think they're Shia.

So, whoever wins, it won't be the Shia.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 28, 2004 2:09 PM

It was a Civil War to start with--with the Sunni oppressing the Shi'a and Kurds until we intervened. The Shi'a have us and will win easily. The Kurds already have won. Iran's problem is that the Iraqi Shi'a will have more influence on them than vice versa.

Posted by: oj at September 28, 2004 3:57 PM