Ok. I am going to be honest here – the joys of anonymity for our blogs right. I want to talk about this recent discussion over potential civil war in Iraq and leaving 30,000ish troops. Maybe I am alone on this, but I have never thought we would pull all the troops out. Sorry. And I do not mean simply the support aspects. There is too much at stake. Iraq is not Vietnam – there are resources.
Granted, the troop levels have just now gone below 100,000 since 2003, but the current withdraw plan will not have all the troops out until the end of 2011. Basically two years away. You can read it yourself but the schedule is to keep 98,000 until after the elections, have only 50,000 remaining by August 31, and all out by the end of the 2011. Can we just say wiggle room is abundant?
The elections are already getting dirty. Sunnis banned, killed, continued Iranian influence, etc… Yes yes I know some of the Sunnis are back in the running now due to an appeal, and maybe some of them should be banned (Go read Duelfer again). That is not really my point. Clearly there is a strong case for a disintegration of the fragile stability if all the troops are pulled out. Then again I would argue that even if things were fairly stable arguments can still be made for leaving bases in Iraq.
Nevertheless, correlating the civil war theory with the long-and-loose withdraw schedule, I think there is ample room for Obama to continue hammering withdraw without hurting domestic polling and safeguarding for alternate scenarios. Why should he admit that there are other stakes on the table right now when he can show progress in withdraw and divert attention elsewhere? Do I think Obama wants to leave troops in Iraq? No. Do I think we will end up leaving a contingent for ‘peacekeeping’? Yes. It is just too vital a geopolitical location not to. I am even willing to argue that a strong strategic-diplomatic policy could have Arab states supporting continued US presence in Iraq for regional stability, based on the fact Iran is pushing its regional influence. Feel free to disagree but, like I said, I have never envisioned an Iraq without US ‘bases’ since the 2003 invasion. Not to say I agreed with the invasion, but the geopolitical moves just seemed apparent. After all, we have already built the largest US embassy there.