As the Democrats position themselves for the upcoming feast of power in the House and Senate, and President Bush continues capitulating, it appears more and more obvious that “cut and run” will make the transition from dire warning to U.S. policy.
With that in mind, we have to focus on what happens when we do “redeploy” our troops out of Iraq. There are three likely possibilities.
The first scenario is that as soon as the last helicopter lifts off from the embassy roof in Baghdad, the Shiites and Sunnis will begin a full scale civil war. At the same time, tens of thousands of al-Qaeda members and sympathizers will flood in from Syria, Iran and other neighboring countries. The new Iraqi government will fall, and Iraq will become the hub mid east instability and the new world capital for global terrorism.
This would be an embarrassment to the U.S. and a blow to the global war against Islamic fascists. However, there would be a silver lining in this ominous dark cloud.
If a civil war happened in Iraq, it would likely split into three distinct ethnic regions: Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd. The sovereign nation of Iraqi Kurdistan would quickly be formed in the north, and the U.S. would be welcomed there with open arms. The Kurds have been overwhelmingly supportive of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as they suffered the worst of Saddam’s oppression. Also, the Kurdish region in northern Iraq is politically stable and secure. The Kurds would likely provide us with bases on their territory, as well as logistic and intelligence support. We’d lose Iraq but gain Iraqi Kurdistan.
It’s more difficult to forecast what would happen between Shiites and Sunnis. Even though polls show that the majority of both Shiites and Sunnis support the new government, the radical minority in both groups could eliminate the possibility of any joint government. Both sects would likely devolve into independent, totalitarian theocracies, each under the rule of the radical cleric de jour. They would engage in skirmish-like battles with each other, especially for control of Baghdad. That is until Iran and/or Syria seized on the opportunity to invade under the guise of peacekeeping. Either way, 80% of what is now Iraq would become a haven for al-Qaeda and like minded groups.
The second post-withdrawal scenario is that the newly formed Iraqi Security Force (ISF) will handle the sectarian insurgency and prevent an Iranian- and Syrian-backed al-Qaeda invasion. If they succeed, the new government will survive, and Iraq will become the model of freedom and democracy for the new Middle East.
The good news for this scenario is that the strength and readiness of the new Iraqi military and police forces has improved dramatically1, the Iraqi economy and infrastructure are better than before the war, and free and independent media is growing rapidly.2 The bad news is that it will be a hard fight, and I only give them a 50/50 chance if the pullout happens within six months as most Democrats propose. The longer we stay, the better the ISF’s and Iraqi government’s odds.
If Iraqi can prevent outside interference from Iran and Syria, then the level of violence will stabilize and eventually decline. Despite the impression given by the international media’s obsessive coverage, the current situation in Iraq is not that bad.
In 2005, more people were murdered in the U.S. (16,692)3 than were killed in all Iraqi violence (9,361).4 Iraq’s murder rate was 35.1 per 100,000 in 2005, which includes all insurgent attacks and combat fatalities. This puts Iraq slightly above the tourist destination of Jamaica (32.4) and Hugo Chavez’ utopia of Venezuela (31.6). However, you are still safer walking the streets of Iraq than you are in the nations of South Africa or Columbia, which have murder rates of 49.6 and 67.1 per 100,000 respectively.5
Contrary to popular belief, there hasn’t been a war in Iraq since 2003. Iraq just has a serious crime problem, about the same as Washington D.C. (35.4 murders per 100,000 residents in 2005). Mission accomplished.
The bottom line is this: The new, democratic government in Iraq gets stronger every day. The majority of Iraqis support the new government, and they are taking part in the political system for the first time in their lives. They are learning what it means to be free. They are learning how it feels to not be afraid.
America has made a paid a huge price in lives and gold to secure this new freedom for the Iraqi people. We planted the seed, and they are almost ready to tend to the sapling. If we withdraw now, the roots that we watered with our sons’ and daughters’ blood may wither and die – and make their sacrifice for naught. Or, the Iraqi people just might pleasantly surprise us once again.
- Report to Congress, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq” October 2005
- St. Petersburg Times, “Iraq by the Numbers” 11/12/2006
- FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program
- Estimated, compiled from various media accounts
- Seventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems