Dark Scenarios

What are we missing here? We paint these scenarios only in terms of the impact on the US or on the wider region. Hello !!!! Iraq is not our country to do with as we please. We take a simple view – Iraq was never ours to invade. There is only one solution, and that is to uninvade immediately. Let Iraqis work out their own appropriate solution to the chaos we’ve created, and provide all the necessary cash for rebuilding the country we have devastated. No IF’s, AND’s, or BUT’s.

Doubt cast on Dire exit scenarios
Carolyn Lochhead, Chronicle Washington Bureau
Sunday, January 28, 2007

The case for adding troops in Iraq — and keeping them there — rests on one basic assumption: As bad as things are now, they would become catastrophic if the United States leaves.

President Bush in his State of the Union address Tuesday warned that an early U.S. exit would create “a nightmare scenario” for America.

In his Jan. 10 address explaining his order of 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq, Bush said a retreat would “force a collapse of the Iraqi government, tear that country apart, and result in mass killings on an unimaginable scale. Such a scenario would result in our troops being forced to stay in Iraq even longer, and confront an enemy that is even more lethal.”

Not everyone is convinced. Some analysts say the apocalyptic scenarios of U.S. withdrawal mirror arguments the administration and many others made for the U.S. invasion in 2003. The premise of the invasion — flawed as it turned out — was that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, posing a direct threat to the United States and the world.

“It’s remarkable how little time people have spent examining the assumptions,” said Kurt Campbell, a former national security official in the Clinton administration, now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

But the administration is not alone. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group, headed by former Secretary of State James Baker, a Republican, and former Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton, a Democrat, laid out a “Pandora’s box” of dire scenarios of U.S. failure in Iraq:

Sectarian war in Iraq spreads across the Middle East. Neighboring regimes are destabilized, and populations radicalized. A humanitarian catastrophe of refugees and ethnic cleansing follows. Iranian influence rises. Regional war erupts. Oil supplies are disrupted. Al Qaeda claims victory, gains recruits and money and is emboldened to strike again. American credibility is damaged.

“If we get run off, there’s no reason to say it would be a positive thing, OK?” said retired Gen. William Nash, U.S. commander in Bosnia from 1995 to 1997. “But just think of the dire predictions that were made in 1975 when the helicopters were leaving the embassy grounds of Saigon and everybody thinking that the dominoes would begin to fall. Lo and behold, the dominoes not only didn’t fall, but a number of the regional actors started taking some responsibilities for some things.”

Bush said Tuesday night that if the United States withdraws, the result will be an “epic battle” between Sunni and Shiite extremists and the creation of a haven for oil-fueled al Qaeda terrorists. Out of the chaos, Bush said, “would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of Sept. 11 and invite tragedy.”

Terrible things cannot be ruled out, said Michael Mandelbaum, head of the foreign policy program at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies. “But the relevant question for American foreign policy is, would they be terrible for us? Would we be worse off than we are now? And I don’t think that goes without saying.”

Many of the dark scenarios sketched as future prospects already exist, even critics of a withdrawal readily acknowledge.

Read the rest here.

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