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April 07, 2008



All the US needs in order to "be able" to get out of Iraq, is the will to do so.
There isn't much of that is there?

Dan Kervick

Look, so long as US foreign policy professionals and thinkers like these USIP folks continue to attach such great goddam importance to "limiting and redirecting Iranian influence", the US is simply never going to get out of Iraq. Get it?

I'm no military man, but even I can tell that if you are trying to redirect and limit a country's influence, and you already have a sizable contingent of troops and a bunch of brand, spanking new military bases in a neighboring country - troops and bases that are, in part, playing just that limiting and redirecting role - then you don't pack up, go home and create the very kind of power vaccuuum that you claim you are so eager to prevent.

It's pretty damn obvious that if the US leaves, Iran is going to move in with straightforward military help to plug a lot of the security holes that the US leaves behind. It's also pretty damn obvious that the insecure government in Baghdad is going to want Tehran to do just that.

Now that actually strikes me as a responsible policy of stabilization and order-building on Iran's part, a policy that is, dare we say it, helpful. But if you're one of those guys who thinks we must all quake in fear over the Hideous Persian Mullah threat, you're never going to be able to accustom yourself to the idea of a US withdrawal from Iraq.

These conventional pieties about diabolical "Iranian influence" make their way into far too many of the endless streams of strategy analysis from the think tanks. The mentions are no less perfunctory than they are superficial. It just seems to be generally agreed among the cognoscenti that this Iranian influence in its next-door neighbor's affairs is bad, bad, bad. Why? I think people who purport to be addressing strategy need to do a lot more work here to spell out the precise issues of concern, and stop waving their hands in the general direction of a few bearded ayatollahs.

The recent military action in Iraq revealed just how clueless are many of these would-be experts. At least during the first couple of days of the fighting, many seemed completely unaware of the fact that Iran has very strong ties with the dominant factions in the Iraqi government, and has been working for a few years now to build economic relations with that government, and help stabilize and strengthen that government.

Apparently, these experts believe every piece of battlefield and political information management nonsense that comes out of David Petraeus's mouth. Every time Petraeus wants to justify an action or expenditure of any kind, he passes some gas about Iranians doing this and that in Iraq. And why shouldn't he? He's got American media types and think-tankers tripping over themselves in their lemming-like conformity to the doctrine of the great Iranian threat. Since Petraeus has been there, just about every single group in Iraq has been claimed to be a recipient of Iranian military assistance, even the Sunni takfiris who yearn to slit Shia throats. This leaves us with the absurd conjecture that Iran is actually trying to foment civil war and chaos on its own border, by arming everyone in their struggle against everyone else. This is daft.

Nur al-Cubicle

Here comes McCain's 100 years...

Foreign press is reporting that the Status of Forces agreement with the US will replace the UN Security Council authorization to expire later this year. The agreement permits US military operations in Iraq and continued arrests and detentions of Iraqis by the US in Camp Bucca, etc. There will be no limit on the number of US troops to be stationed there, on the weaponry the US may install there (->Missile Shield Iraq<-), the status under law of these troops and what they can do to Iraqi civilians or otherwise.

No Preference

AA, I'd be curious to know your take on the core strategic interests of the US in Iraq.

No Preference

AA, I'd be curious to know your take on the core strategic interests of the US in Iraq.

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