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December 03, 2005

Read It and Weep – Iraq War Consequences

Brian Whitaker, columnist for famed British newspaper, The Guardian, discusses an article in the Forward Forum, a Jewish on-line magazine, on the horrendous consequences of the Iraq War.  It was written by Martin van Creveld, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and one of the world's foremost military historians.

Van Creveld says of our current situation, “The question is no longer if American forces will be withdrawn, but how soon — and at what cost. In this respect, as in so many others, the obvious parallel to Iraq is Vietnam.”  As the U.S. prepares to leave, he says the situation is far worse for us and the region now than then.  In Vietnam, at least there was a government in North Vietnam to negotiate a truce with.  His description of the likely scenario during and after withdrawal in Iraq:

A withdrawal probably will require several months and incur a sizable number of casualties. As the pullout proceeds, Iraq almost certainly will sink into an all-out civil war from which it will take the country a long time to emerge — if, indeed, it can do so at all. All this is inevitable and will take place whether George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice like it or not.

Van Creweld, btw, is the only non-American author on the U.S. Army's required reading list for officers.  Here is what he thinks is likely to occur in the region following the initial withdrawals:

Having been thoroughly devastated by two wars with the United States and a decade of economic sanctions, decades will pass before Iraq can endanger its neighbors again. Yet a complete American withdrawal is not an option; the region, with its vast oil reserves, is simply too important for that. A continued military presence, made up of air, sea and a moderate number of ground forces, will be needed.

First and foremost, such a presence will be needed to counter Iran, which for two decades now has seen the United States as "the Great Satan." Tehran is certain to emerge as the biggest winner from the war — a winner that in the not too distant future is likely to add nuclear warheads to the missiles it already has. In the past, Tehran has often threatened the Gulf States. Now that Iraq is gone, it is hard to see how anybody except the United States can keep the Gulf States, and their oil, out of the mullahs' clutches.

A continued American military presence will be needed also, because a divided, chaotic, government-less Iraq is very likely to become a hornets' nest. From it, a hundred mini-Zarqawis will spread all over the Middle East, conducting acts of sabotage and seeking to overthrow governments in Allah's name.

As for Bush, van Creweld calls for impeachment and trial:

For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president's men. If convicted, they'll have plenty of time to mull over their sins.

Whitaker’s take on our situation now:

The inescapable fact is that the processes Mr Bush unleashed on March 20 2003 (and imagined he had ended with his "mission accomplished" speech six weeks later) will take a decade or more to run their course and there is little that anyone, even the US, can do now to halt them.

In his eagerness for regime change in Iraq, Mr Bush blundered into a trap from which in the short term there is no way out: the Americans will be damned if they stay and damned if they leave.

Both pieces are well worth the read. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 3, 2005 at 10:44 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink

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