Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pentagon Simulations Suggest Al Qaeda Take Over Of Iraq Unlikely If United States Withdraws

My brother, who is a strong Republican, and I discussed the future of Iraq the other night. Our debates, while frank, are no longer heated. We have learned that shouting and name calling are not effective communication tools. While he has seldom changed my mind, his views help keep me somewhat grounded. He accepts President Bush's current assessment that if we leave Iraq, Al Qaeda in Iraq will be able to establish safe havens in what would then be a lawless failed state.

The Washington Post published a story Tuesday by Karen DeYoung and Thomas E. Ricks examining the results of Pentagon sponsored war games focusing on what might happen in Iraq after the Americans pull out.

If U.S. combat forces withdraw from Iraq in the near future, three developments would be likely to unfold. Majority Shiites would drive Sunnis out of ethnically mixed areas west to Anbar province. Southern Iraq would erupt in civil war between Shiite groups. And the Kurdish north would solidify its borders and invite a U.S. troop presence there. In short, Iraq would effectively become three separate nations.

That was the conclusion reached in recent "war games" exercises conducted for the U.S. military by retired Marine Col. Gary Anderson. "I honestly don't think it will be apocalyptic," said Anderson, who has served in Iraq and now works for a major defense contractor. But "it will be ugly."
I think everybody assumes an unreconciled post U.S. Iraq would be ugly. That's why Iraqi political leaders really ought to be talking. That is why everybody is concerned that they are not.

What about Al Qaeda in Iraq creating safe havens.
What is perhaps most striking about the military's simulations is that its post-drawdown scenarios focus on civil war and regional intervention and upheaval rather than the establishment of an al-Qaeda sanctuary in Iraq.
You should read the entire article, but it would seem the U.S. military thinks President Bush's belief that Al Qaeda in Iraq would gain a foothold in a post United States Iraq is pretty far fetched. The Iraqis don't much like foreigners, be they American, Saudi or Pakistani. The presence of Americans is the only thing preventing the foreign Islamist fighters from quickly exiting either this life at worst or the country at best. The video below is Keith Olbermann's interview of Thomas Ricks. It is very enlightening.

By the way, this post includes a summary of a much longer linked newspaper story, some mini-punditry, and a short video. It reflects the kind of convergence of print and video only possible on the net and best done in a blog. More about media convergence later.