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Unformatted text preview: Re-Occupy Iraq?Jeffrey StaceyTHE U.S. occupation ofIraq has reached a dramaticturning point: The costs toAmerica in blood and treasure dictatethat a new president from either partywill have to take the United States in adramatically different direction. Admit-ting privately that there is no Plan B, thecurrent administration appears to haveput all its eggs in one basket. U.S. armedforces are implementing a surge of 20,000in the U.S. troop presence in Iraq. WTiileit could be a step in the right direction,even this "surge and hope" strategy willlikely falter soon, as U.S. forces will beunable to clear and hold Baghdad neigh-borhoods until Iraq's militias are dealtwith in a dramatically different way.But earlier phases of the war bode illfor the current strategy. Tens of billionshave already been spent in reconstructionaid, the Maliki government has previous-ly resisted benchmarks and timelines, andsimilar troop surges have failed in eachof the last three years. Furthermore, thecondition of Iraqi forces is grim: Theycannot be trained more quickly, retaintheir sectarian loyalties and have provedunreliable in battle. In fact, Americancommanders have privately concludedthat Iraqi troops will not ever be battle-ready in sufficient numbers (though ap-parently they have not determined thatJeffrey Stacey is a professor of political science andintemational relations at Tulane University.a permanent U.S. troop presence in Iraqwill be necessary). Yet in terms of pros-pects for coalition-force success, it is aformidable challenge to implement coun-terinsurgency stratagems once an insur-gency has fully taken hold; moreover, acohesive, legitimate government is re-quired for them to succeed. This patentlyis not the case.At this stagewithde factopartitionin the form of ethnic cleansing alreadyfairly advanced, untamed and amorphousmilitias meting out substantial destructionand power grabs by the political factionstaking the form of a feeding frenzytheway forward is perilous.With a variety of alternative strategieson the table, the administration's choiceof "surge and hope" will be debated byhistorians for years to come. Democratshave unveiled a plan for phased with-drawal; Senator Joseph R. Biden (D-DE)and others suggest partitioning Iraq; theInternational Crisis Group advocates aconference of all international and na-tional political actors; and the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group focuses ondiplomacy with Iraq's neighbors.The problem with these alterna-tives, however, is clear. With regard tothe Baker-Hamilton report, what is mostsurprising is how unimaginative and un-varied the recommendations were. Thesole novel element involved a suggestionto reach out diplomatically to Iran andSyria. However, Iran is riding high in the58..The National InterestJuUAug. 2001.region and has no incentive to help reinin Shi'a militias; it would demand thatthe West desist from its pressure overIran's nuclear development. Syria wouldseek a voice in Lebanon againpossiblyvia Hizballah's presence in government...
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course 790 319 taught by Professor Licklider during the Spring '09 term at Rutgers.
- Spring '09