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NYT: All Agree US Iraq Exit Would Be Disaster

From an amazed New York Times:

Strife Foreseen in Iraq Exit, but Experts Split on Degree

WASHINGTON, May 26 — There is one matter on which American military commanders, many Iraqis and some of the Bush administration’s staunchest Congressional critics agree: if the United States withdrew its forces from Baghdad’s streets this fall, the murder and mayhem would increase.

But that is where the agreement ends. The wrangling in Washington over war financing, still fierce despite the Democrats’ decision to forgo for now withdrawal deadlines, has obscured a more fundamental debate over what Iraq’s future might look like without American troops.

Would the pullback of American forces unleash an even bloodier round of civil conflict that would lead to the implosion of the Iraqi government? Or would it put pressure on Iraqi politicians to finally reconcile their differences? More bluntly: how bad would things get?

Those questions loom as the administration debates how and when to wind down its troop increase in Iraq, as Iraqis weigh the trade-offs between autonomy and security, and as Congressional Democrats, frustrated by this week’s compromise with the White House, vow to hold a tougher line on future war financing.

To address the issue, The New York Times interviewed more than 40 Iraqi politicians and citizens and consulted recent surveys of public opinion in Iraq. The views of a broad range of senior military officials, American intelligence experts, politicians and independent analysts who have recently returned from Iraq were also solicited.

The somewhat surprising verdict of most Iraqis was clear. For all their distaste for the American occupation, many of them fear that a pullback any time soon would lead to a violent chain reaction that would jeopardize the fitful attempts at political dialogue and risk the collapse of the Iraqi government.

“Many militias and terrorist groups are just waiting for the Americans to leave,” said Salim Abdullah, the spokesman for the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni Arab group in the Parliament, who lost two brothers this year to attacks by insurgents.

“This does not mean the presence of American troops in Baghdad is our favorite option,” he said. “People in the street say the United States is part of the chaos here and they could have made it better and safer. Still, we need America to make the country more stable and not leave Iraq in the trouble, which they, themselves, have caused.”

Senior American commanders in Iraq have a similar assessment. A troop drawdown should not occur until security is improved, military commanders say, and even then it should be gradual and carefully engineered. “There will be a time when we will slowly remove ourselves from the Iraqi forces and allow them to take more and more control,” said Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the commander of ground forces in Iraq, who has privately recommended that elevated troop levels be maintained through early 2008. “But this should be done thoughtfully and methodically when conditions permit.”

If the American forces were reduced too soon, military officials say, the fledgling Iraqi Army and police forces could not hold the line against a rising tide of suicide bomb attacks by insurgent groups like Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Shiite militias that had decided to lie low would resume large-scale attacks on Sunni residents. Mixed Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods, already growing scarce, would disappear, and Iraqi forces would fracture along sectarian lines…

It almost kills the New York Times to have to admit that a precipitous pullout of US troops would be an unmitigated disaster for Iraq. But still that is the ultimate conclusion of this typically verbose and confusing article.

And of course they had to publish their “findings” on one of the slowest news days of the year, during the Memorial Day weekend.

But a few months from now, when we witness this holocaust thanks to them and their Democrat masters, they can say, “we told you so.”

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, May 27th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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