Eliot Cohen is must-reading today in the Washington Post on the dreadful consequences of a bug-out in Iraq:
“Let us say, though, that American forces nonetheless got out, accompanied (one would hope) by tens if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who had put their faith in their American liberators and at least had received asylum in return. What would then happen in Iraq? A return of Hussein to complete power? Not likely: His army is in ruins, and neither Kurds nor Shiites would be as easy victims as in the past. But internecine mayhem? Surely — both within the various confessional communities and certainly between them, there would be ample opportunities for preemptive or retaliatory slaughter, particularly in towns with mixed populations (including Baghdad). It might settle down after a while, with a Kurdish republic in the north boxed in by Turkey, Syria, Iran and the Sunnis (all hostile), a turbulent Shiite south (with a lot of oil but little governance) and a Sunni center including, in all likelihood, control of a divided Baghdad. This would be the playground for all kinds of foreign parties — Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Islamist fanatics of all stripes. If the United States did not like Afghanistan as a home for jihadists, it can expect to like such a base in the heart of the Arab world even less.”
From an opposite perspective, the domestic political one, Dick Morris writes today about wonderful political consequences of a bug-out in Iraq:
“The Iraq issue is the biggest danger to Bush’s re-election. But Bush can completely neutralize it by bringing troops home week after week during the election campaign. With each new planeload, the arguments in favor of Dean will atrophy.” The Morris scenario represents the temptation the administration must resist.