Saturday, November 18, 2006

It's up to Iraq when we should leave

If it were left up to the Neoconservatives, American troops would be in Iraq for a very long time. Even if Iraq were successfully "pacified" in the short run, the Neocons have an undisclosed but not-so-secret agenda with Syria and Iran which would require them to have a heavy U.S. troop presence in Iraq. Unfortunately for the Neocons, Iraq is in a state of "civil quagmire" and is showing no signs of becoming a solid and stable platform for pursuit of their agenda with Syria and Iran. Or maybe I should say the Pro-Israel Lobby agenda with Syria and Iran. Politically, their agenda is no longer tenable, now being a mere fantasy, which it always was. Nonetheless, being mortally committed to holding Iraq, the Neocons will not willingly let go. Being aligned with the Neocon agenda, the Bush administration and its Conservative congressional supporters simply will not take the lead in departing from Iraq while the totality of the Neoconservative agenda remains largely unfulfilled. The new Democratic majority in Congress has some degree of power now, but remains a toothless barking dog with quite a growl but otherwise unable to drag us out of Iraq by themselves. This leaves the Iraqis with the task of pulling together enough of a leadership consensus to basically "ask" the U.S. to remove its troops at the earliest possible date. Oddly, both the Shiites and the Sunnis depend on the U.S. for some degree of protection, but they also feel that the U.S. is thwarting their interests as well. This gives them common cause to come to some sort of accommodation to rally their own "troops" and ask the U.S. to leave as soon as possible.

There is a lot of chaos and a lot of risk in Iraq, but I do believe that accommodation and leadership by Iraqis leading to a "request" for the departure of U.S. troops is a very real and likely prospect sometime in the next six months.

Once the Iraqis file such a request, the Democrats will rally around it. The Neocons will resist, but world opinion will rally around the Democrats and the Iraqis, putting enough public opinion pressure on moderate Republicans to achieve a veto-proof congressional majority to pass a resolution "requiring" the departure of U.S. troops on some reasonably short but practical timeline.

Even with such an outcome, U.S. troops will probably remain in Iraq in some numbers and some form for many years, but not in large numbers and not as an "occupying force". For example, although the Iraqis are likely to seek an accommodation with Syria and Iran, they are also likely to welcome the deterrent value of some U.S. troops and quick reaction forces on bases that are out of sight of the general populace.

I'm also sure that there are plenty of pragmatic Iraqis who will welcome the opportunity to make a few bucks providing goods and services to a lingering U.S. contingent.

There is plenty of potential upside for this scenario, and little in the way of downside for anybody other than the Neoconservatives and the rest of the so-called Pro-Israel Lobby.

-- Jack Krupansky


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