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March 07, 2006

Between Iraq and a Hard Place

We are lucky to have a president who is as stubborn and principled as GWB, because otherwise it would be hard to prevent the US from starting the process of cutting and running in Iraq. While there are reasons to continue to be hopeful about the prospects for political stability in that country -- for example the rise of armed opposition to Zarqawi's Al Queda in Iraq among Sunni communities in Anbar province or newfound support for Coalition troops among Sunni political leaders who fear Shiite control of the Iraqi army and police -- there are still plenty or reasons for pessimism. And, as the lead editorial in today's NY Post points out, the media's chorus of negative coverage about the war is beginning to take its toll on US public support for continuing the effort, even among right wingers who had previously endorsed the invasion.

But before political opponents of President Bush get too carried away with making hay over bringing the troops home, they should listen to what US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad has to say. Here are excerpts from an article in today's LAT by Borzou Daragahi describing remarks Ambassador Khalilzad made yesterday:

. . . Abandoning Iraq in the way the U.S. disengaged from civil wars in Lebanon, Afghanistan and Somalia could have dramatic global repercussions, he said.

"We have opened the Pandora's box and the question is, what is the way forward?" Khalilzad said. . .

. . . In any case, Khalilzad said the U.S. has little choice but to maintain a strong presence in Iraq - or risk a regional conflict in which Arabs side with Sunnis and Iranians back Shiites, in what could be a more encompassing version of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, which left more than 1 million dead.

The ambassador warned of a calamitous disruption in the production and transport of energy supplies in the Persian Gulf. He described a worst-case scenario in which religious extremists could take over sections of Iraq and begin to expand outward.

"That would make Taliban Afghanistan look like child's play," said Khalilzad, an American of Afghan descent who served as U.S. envoy to Afghanistan before taking on the post in Iraq.

One million dead. . . That is something to think about, and those deaths occurred in a war between only two countries: Iran and Iraq. Who knows what could happen in a wider conflict involving war between Sunnis and Shias throughout the broader middle east? Those on the left who are not-so-secretly rooting for an Iraqi civil war had better be careful what they wish for.

March 7, 2006 at 10:30 AM | Permalink


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