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LawVol
04-19-2007, 02:45 PM
The risks of staying vs. leaving Iraq
BY: Barry R. Posen, Boston Globe
04/19/2007


Supporters of the war in Iraq, including most recently Senator John McCain, tell us that a series of awful consequences will certainly result if US forces disengage. This argument is offered with great confidence. Yet the costs of disengagement are less certain than is often argued, and the United States can reduce the risks that these costs will arise -- and limit their consequences if they do.

Supporters of the war predict six major disasters if US forces withdraw:

Al Qaeda will take over the country. This risk is now non existent. Al Qaeda's support is strongest among Sunnis, whom the Shia outnumber by three to one. The Shia control the military, the police, and numerous militias. The United States has ramped up its operations in Baghdad in part to stop the Shia from cleansing the Sunnis from Baghdad. There will be no caliphate in Baghdad, whether Americans stay or leave.

Iraq will become a new Afghanistan, to Al Qaeda's benefit. The most extreme among the Sunni insurgents may indeed be committed to international jihad, and they may continue to work clandestinely out of Iraq, as they do today. But these jihadis will not be comfortable. Iraqi Shi'ites despise them, and even many Sunnis oppose them. US intelligence will indeed have to keep an eye on them, and special operations forces may occasionally need to sneak back into Iraq to strike at them. These are capabilities the United States has spent billions building up since Sept. 11.

The current civil war (or wars) will escalate. Fighting may indeed intensify after a US disengagement. To come to an understanding of how wealth and power in Iraq will be shared, the political forces there must measure their relative capacity and will. The United States now stands in the way of such a measurement, and the US presence delegitimizes any outcome. The promise of a certain US withdrawal date may clear the heads of some Iraqi politicians ; a negotiated settlement could start to look better to them than an escalation of fighting.

Genocide. The humanitarian consequences of this intensified fighting could be grave. But genocide happens against unarmed populations; all groups in Iraq are heavily armed. Still, the violent ejection of minorities from particular areas is likely. Instead of convincing minorities to stay in neighborhoods where they are vulnerable to murder by local majorities, the United States can help people resettle in parts of Iraq that are safer.

If the civil war intensifies, regional powers will rush in. This too is already under way, but escalation into a giant civil war is not in anyone's interest. Syria, Iran, and Turkey have Kurdish minorities which may become restive during such a war. The Saudis would likely prefer that their Sunni Arab friends make a deal, rather than wage a fight that they might lose. Even Iran, whose Shia co-religionists stand to win such a war, faces risks. The Arab Shia are not one big happy family; they kill each other in Iraq today. Most Iraqi Shia think of themselves as Arabs; heavy-handed Iranian intervention may energize their nationalist opposition.

The United States can engage diplomatically to remind the regional players of their interest in stabilizing Iraq. If the United States leaves Iraq deliberately, and under its own power, it still has cards to play.

The worst case. The civil war escalates; outsiders back their friends; their friends begin to lose, so the war escalates to become a regional conflagration. Could happen, but one should not exaggerate the military capabilities of any of the local players. They are all heavily armed, but conventional warfare is not the strong suit of any of the regional actors, with perhaps the exception of Turkey. The Saudi forces, though equipped with modern weapons, are almost surely helpless without help from western contractors. Iran's air forces are obsolete and highly vulnerable to American air attack. Moreover, Saudi Arabia and Iran are one-crop countries; each depends on oil facilities that are vulnerable to attack by the other. A kind of Mutual Assured Destruction should deter both from risking general war.

Four years of experience strongly suggests that the costs to the United States of persisting in Iraq will be significant. Whatever success is achieved there, the end result will not be the stable liberal democratic vision of the war's supporters. Rather, after lots more killing, exhaustion may set in, partial deals may be struck, and factions may retreat to tend their own battered gardens.

Call this what you will, but it cannot justify the costs incurred. And this outcome will not differ significantly from what will occur if the United States begins to disengage now.

Barry R. Posen is director of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Danny
04-19-2007, 03:32 PM
Do you still have the link to this article? You should post it. Thanks.

LawVol
04-19-2007, 03:48 PM
The article was pasted in its entirety, but here's the link:

http://aimpoints.hq.af.mil/display.cfm?id=18122

Merv Benson
04-19-2007, 04:37 PM
What were the consequences of our retreat from Mogadishu? Al Qaeda viewed it as a victory and gave it reason to believe they could force a retreat from the middle east if they attacked the US directly. I think they would view a retreat from Iraq as a beginning of a retreat from the middle east that could be turned into a rout with additional attacks on the US.

This may be speculation, but it is based on what al Qaeda's leaders have said about the other retreats and the one they expect in Iraq.

goesh
04-19-2007, 05:18 PM
I recall reading a jihadist-type blog a couple of years ago and I'll never forget the respondent who said he repeatedly watched the movie Blackhawk Down because it gave him so much satisfaction seeing Americans killed. It was a good propoganda piece for them to use minus the production costs.

John T. Fishel
04-19-2007, 06:45 PM
In the thread on Edward Luttwak's Harpers article we have briefly discussed academics, practitioners, and academics who also have experience as practitioners. A look at Barry Posen's CV puts him in the "pure" academic camp, in my book, despite some "think tank" experience. His article shows all the hallmarks of the classical realist IR school. Now realism does provide the single best explanatory and predictive model but it is not the be all and end all. Posen's article demonstrates the falacy of too close an adherance to clasical realism. It - and he - assumes that the adversary is a rational actor who is either a state or behaves like a state. Classical realism fails in both explanation and prediction when the adversary is pursuing irrational goals in an instrumentally rational way. It also fails when the state does not behave as a single actor following its interests - behaves like multiple actors following diverse and conflicting interests and when the actor is not a state...
As the discussion has pointed out, AQ and other jihadists are likely to interpret a US pullout as they did the Marine barracks in Lebanon or Black Hawk Down in Somalia - great victories do embolden!

marct
04-19-2007, 09:33 PM
I'd have to agree with John on this. For example, Posen's contention that


The worst case. The civil war escalates; outsiders back their friends; their friends begin to lose, so the war escalates to become a regional conflagration. Could happen, but one should not exaggerate the military capabilities of any of the local players. They are all heavily armed, but conventional warfare is not the strong suit of any of the regional actors, with perhaps the exception of Turkey. The Saudi forces, though equipped with modern weapons, are almost surely helpless without help from western contractors. Iran's air forces are obsolete and highly vulnerable to American air attack. Moreover, Saudi Arabia and Iran are one-crop countries; each depends on oil facilities that are vulnerable to attack by the other. A kind of Mutual Assured Destruction should deter both from risking general war.This can only be described as living in an "alternate reality". The idea that "one should not exaggerate the military capabilities of any of the local players. They are all heavily armed, but conventional warfare is not the strong suit of any of the regional actors, with perhaps the exception of Turkey" is valid on its face, but it neglects a consideration of two things:
The global media space, and
The recent Israeli-Hezbollah war.I think it is safe to say that none of the regional actors will be likely to invade CONUS (or Canada!) with conventional forces. So what? They can certainly destabilize the Middle East region even more than it is at present. Play out the scenario. The Coalition withdraws, the Kurds declare an independent state, Iran and Turkey attempt to intervene in "Kurdistan", Iran supports extremist Shi'ite groups in the south and centre of Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia support a "Sunni Centre", Hezbollah attacks Israel on Iranian orders while Syria sits on the sidelines and picks up money, resources and territory from all players.

Certainly you may have a MAD scenario for oil which might act to stop conventional destruction of the facilities, but that is irrelevant since the oil prices will rise anyway. Where else is the US going to get oil? From their good friend Chavez? From us (Canada - we're already the US's largest external supplier)?

With a general conflagration in the middle east, oil prices start to exceed U$100/barrel and the American population demands that "something be done!". The Democrats, under General Pelosi, blame the Republicans for rising oil prices, poverty, lack of medical care to the general population, global climate change and demand an intervention to secure oil production facilities. Within 2 years of a pull out, the US military will be sent in again - by a Democrat President - in a blatant attempt to gain control of the oil fields so that Californian voters can drive their SUVs without screaming over the price of gas.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, the bastard children of the Muslim Brotherhood (including al-Quaida) have "proven" to the world that the Great Satan and his Crusader minions have been expelled from the Muslim World. The Caliphate is proclaimed in Egypt (supported by Saudi Wahabis and Yemeni Mamelukes), and a global "jihad" is proclaimed. Europe, noting the obvious imperialist attitude of the United States, declares itself "neutral", once again blaming the Americans for having "no sense of history", and, by degrees, becomes an Islamist stronghold as the mobs of AQ inspired barbarians in Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam demand "equality", i.e. Sharia Law.

[the preceding rant was brought to you courtesy of marctyrrell.com]

You know, there are times when I get truly riled up ;).

Marc

John T. Fishel
04-20-2007, 12:03 AM
Hip, hip, hooray!

Hip, hip, Hooray!

Hip, hip, HOORAY!!!!!!!!

I'm with you bud - love the rant.

goesh
04-20-2007, 03:11 AM
Marct, will you PM me some lotto number please????? I'll generously share, I promise! Where'd you get that 3rd eye that sees so darn well ahead??:wry:

tequila
04-20-2007, 07:54 AM
I think it is safe to say that none of the regional actors will be likely to invade CONUS (or Canada!) with conventional forces. So what? They can certainly destabilize the Middle East region even more than it is at present. Play out the scenario. The Coalition withdraws, the Kurds declare an independent state, Iran and Turkey attempt to intervene in "Kurdistan", Iran supports extremist Shi'ite groups in the south and centre of Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia support a "Sunni Centre", Hezbollah attacks Israel on Iranian orders while Syria sits on the sidelines and picks up money, resources and territory from all players.

OK, you sort of got me up to here, though you haven't given a decent reason why Hizbullah would attack Israel at this juncture. It's not like American troops in Iraq exactly deterred them the last time.


Certainly you may have a MAD scenario for oil which might act to stop conventional destruction of the facilities, but that is irrelevant since the oil prices will rise anyway. Where else is the US going to get oil? From their good friend Chavez? From us (Canada - we're already the US's largest external supplier)?

Canada, Mexico, Saudi, Nigeria, Venezuela - same places we get them from now.


With a general conflagration in the middle east, oil prices start to exceed U$100/barrel and the American population demands that "something be done!". The Democrats, under General Pelosi, blame the Republicans for rising oil prices, poverty, lack of medical care to the general population, global climate change and demand an intervention to secure oil production facilities. Within 2 years of a pull out, the US military will be sent in again - by a Democrat President - in a blatant attempt to gain control of the oil fields so that Californian voters can drive their SUVs without screaming over the price of gas.

Fantasy. Do you consult for Newt Gingrich? If not, you should.


Meanwhile, in the Middle East, the bastard children of the Muslim Brotherhood (including al-Quaida) have "proven" to the world that the Great Satan and his Crusader minions have been expelled from the Muslim World. The Caliphate is proclaimed in Egypt (supported by Saudi Wahabis and Yemeni Mamelukes), and a global "jihad" is proclaimed. Europe, noting the obvious imperialist attitude of the United States, declares itself "neutral", once again blaming the Americans for having "no sense of history", and, by degrees, becomes an Islamist stronghold as the mobs of AQ inspired barbarians in Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam demand "equality", i.e. Sharia Law.

Utter delusion. Seriously Marc, were you mainlining whatever it is that Richard Perle and Mark Steyn have been smoking the past five years? A "caliphate" in Egypt? Right, because the NDP, Egyptian security services, and army would just step aside for the Egyptian MB --- which, as you know, hates al-Qaeda.

Also --- Yemeni Mamelukes?! Where can I buy my own slave soldiers? At least if you're going to proclaim an AQ "caliphate", be a little more realistic say al-Qaim or Ramadi, and if you're going to recall ahistorical figures from the medieval past, you might as well as be really ahistorical but super-cool, like "Wahabi Assassins, but with Ninja powers!"

As for the "Eurabia" fantasy --- seriously, where does this come from? Is the enormous 7% Muslim population in the Netherlands that close to overrunning the entire country? How about the gigantic 9% in France? Please.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/bsp/hi/image_maps/05/12/1135354272/img/image.gif

goesh
04-20-2007, 11:28 AM
"As for the "Eurabia" fantasy --- seriously, where does this come from? Is the enormous 7% Muslim population in the Netherlands that close to overrunning the entire country? How about the gigantic 9% in France? Please."

The hapless Frogs couldn't even contain teens with molotovs - there is no telling how many cars were burned and citizens assaulted in the recent burning times, some of which is still going on. That same mob with AKs, plastique and suiciders could cripple France rather easily. The best way to hurt frogs is to contaminate their water supply by the way. It's more a question of why didn't they because like in boxing, the jab sets up any number of punches. Not only did these, ah, poor, disinfranchised, misguided, unemployed boys sucker punch French authorities, they demonstrated total control of the streets with molotovs and few other weapons. The employment of cell phones, pagers and text messaging as command and control was anything but random. I would suggest most European cities would be as easy to do. Marct, I'm still waiting for some lotto numbers. You see(r) rather well.

tequila
04-20-2007, 11:41 AM
Goesh, I had cousins out in LA in 1992. France doesn't know what a real riot looks like. How many people did the rampaging brown hordes actually kill during the car burnfests? It's a lot less than are going to get killed in LA in the next 24 hours.

Hell, we just had a "riot" in midtown Manhattan a month or so back over a high school basketball game, with shots fired and kids running the streets fighting and stabbing each other. Same thing happened in Union Square near my old alma mater, with one kid getting stabbed to death for the amusement of NYU party kids and Euro tourists. I'm not crapping my pants over the prospect of the Coney Island Ave Deuce Four Crips storming Grace Mansion, though.

Dr Jack
04-20-2007, 11:53 AM
Bernard Lewis has an interesting essay entitled "For Fanatical Muslims, Migration is Part of 'Third Wave' Attack on Europe" --
http://www.digitalnpq.org/articles/global/163/03-26-2007/bernard_lewis


In the eyes of a fanatical and resolute minority of Muslims, the third wave of attack on Christendom and Europe has clearly begun.

The first wave dates from the very beginning of Islam, when the new faith spilled out of the Arabian Peninsula, where it was born, into the Middle East and beyond. It was then that Muslims conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt and North Africa all at that time part of the Christian world and went beyond into Europe. There, they conquered a sizable part of southwestern Europe, including Spain, Portugal and southern Italy, all of which became part of the Islamic world, and even crossed the Pyrenees and occupied for a while parts of France.

The second wave was conducted not by Arabs and Moors but by Turks and Tartars. In the mid-13th century, the Mongol conquerors of Russia were converted to Islam. The Turks, who had already conquered Anatolia, advanced into Europe and in 1453 they captured the ancient Christian citadel of Constantinople. They conquered a large part of the Balkans, and for a while ruled half of Hungary. Twice they reached as far as Vienna, to which they laid siege in 1529 and again in 1683. Barbary corsairs from North Africa went to Iceland the uttermost limit and to several places in Western Europe, including notably a raid on Baltimore (the original one, in Ireland) in 1631.

The third wave is taking a different form: terror and migration. The subject of terror has been discussed frequently and in great detail. What I want to address here is the other aspect, which is of more particular relevance to Europe today the question of migration.

----------
WILL THE THIRD WAVE SUCCEED?

Where do we stand now? Is it third time lucky? It is not impossible. Muslim immigrants have certain clear advantages. They have fervor and conviction, which in most Western countries are either weak or lacking.

They are self-assured of the rightness of their cause, whereas we spend most of our time in self-denigration and self-abasement. They have loyalty and discipline, and perhaps most important of all, they have demography. The combination of natural increase and migration that is producing major population changes could lead within the foreseeable future to significant majorities in at least some European cities or even countries.

tequila
04-20-2007, 12:13 PM
That essay reminds me of the wisdom of our forefathers (http://www2.wwnorton.com/college/history/archive/resources/documents/ch12_04.htm).

goesh
04-20-2007, 12:29 PM
All I'm suggesting is if I were a senior jihadist commander, I would certainly want to not only gage the response of established authority to street jihad, I would be even more intensely interested in the response of the citizens. The expense of this operation was minimal and they learned most of what they wanted to learn. It takes little imagination to visualize the many French cowering in their homes during the burning. they dont' have too many deer hunters, rednecks and hillbillies over there ya' know. Secondly, such actions divert collective attention and will away from other, external events.

tequila
04-20-2007, 12:37 PM
Actually France has the highest firearms ownership rate in the euro zone next to Finland, approximately 23-27%. The U.S. has a rate of 35-39% depending on who you ask. Compare with the UK at 4%.

Also, I doubt the banlieues are anywhere that organized. Chronic disorganization appears to the rule of the day, not dissimilar to what is seen in LA or Chicago.

If you want "organized" ghettos, go to Brazil (http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0516/p06s01-woam.html).

goesh
04-20-2007, 12:40 PM
Hunters, hillbillies, rednecks being the operative words here:wry:

tequila
04-20-2007, 12:52 PM
Actually their rednecks have their political party (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Front_(France)), which is a good deal nastier than anything here.

Besides, I've lived in both western Pennsylvania (http://www.county.allegheny.pa.us/)and East New York (http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/pdf/chfdept/cs075pct.pdf) as a, shall we say, HVT ethnicity. You hillbillies just don't scare me much. :p

marct
04-20-2007, 01:41 PM
Hi Tequila,

Well, rants are in many ways an exercise in rhetoric and can be somewhat cathartic.;)


As for the "Eurabia" fantasy --- seriously, where does this come from? Is the enormous 7% Muslim population in the Netherlands that close to overrunning the entire country? How about the gigantic 9% in France? Please.

Actually, this is one of the scarier points in it all. Sure, Mark Steyn is a touch over the top in his predictions of "Eurabia". However, let me make a couple of observations on the demographic trends now in place. First, within Europe, the number in your map are accurate for total population, but they don't look at age segmentation or relative birth rate both of which are important. The last data I saw, from the EU population council, placed the relative birth rates at (very) roughly 2:1 Muslim to non-Muslim (there are all sorts of data gathering problems). Second, the issue of integration has been a fairly hot one in France, especially for the 2nd and 3rd gen descendants of groups from north Africa. Third, France itself has
several severe social problems in terms of youth employment (i.e. there just aren't that many entry level jobs). This is creating a situation where there is a lot of generational tension and, since roughly 16-17% of "youth" in France are Muslim, it is also acting as a potential breeding ground for radicalization.

While I don't agree with Steyns more radical projections, the basic demographics d back up some of his points - at least inasmuch as it should be possible to manipulate the EU into being "neutral".

Marc

tequila
04-20-2007, 02:06 PM
Muslims in France (http://www.brookings.edu/views/testimony/fellows/vaisse20060112.htm).


Among "potential Muslims" in France, attendance at mosques is not very high. This is particularly noticeable when the figure is compared with church attendance (around 10% attend each week). But religious observance (abstaining from alcohol, fasting during Ramadan and praying) is higher among self-declared Muslims than among self-declared Catholics.

...

Although French Muslims of African or Turkish origin are typically younger than the rest of the French population, fertility rates among immigrant women tend to conform with the French norm after their arrival. The gap in fertility rates between immigrant women and French women is 0.46. While Europe on the whole is experiencing declining birth rates, there are two demographic exceptions: France and Ireland. In France, the fertility rate is 1.94 children born per woman (2005.) (In comparison, the U.S. fertility rate is 2.08 children born per woman.) Without immigrant women, this figure would drop by 0.05 children born per woman. In other words, one can hardly speak of a "demographic time bomb," "colonization in reverse," or the "Islamicization of France."

All the new Stoddards like Steyn and Buchanan who bemoan the white race's inevitable submersion beneath the swarthy Muslim hordes should really check out the rather low birth rates in most Muslim countries. I'd hate to reassure them --- more fun to watch them sweat --- but their views are just silly, and belong to an earlier age (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Passing_of_the_Great_Race).

marct
04-20-2007, 02:36 PM
Hi Tequila,


[/URL]All the new Stoddards like Steyn and Buchanan who bemoan the white race's inevitable submersion beneath the swarthy Muslim hordes should really check out the rather low birth rates in most Muslim countries. I'd hate to reassure them --- more fun to watch them sweat --- but their views are just silly, and belong to an [URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Passing_of_the_Great_Race"]earlier age (http://www.brookings.edu/views/testimony/fellows/vaisse20060112.htm).

At the moment, the latest UN statistics on age distribution show some rather disturbing trends (you can get them here (http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/dyb/DYB2004/Table02.pdf)). When you examine the crude birth and death rates to get a general population growth (http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/dyb/DYB2004/Table01.pdf), the highest population growth rates are in Africa (0.7-2.6) and Western Asia (2.1). Some other rates are:

North America 1.0
Eastern Europe -0.5
Northern Europe 0.3
Southern Europe 0.4
Western Europe 0.2As far as "ravening hordes" are concerned, sure that image belongs to an earlier age - I ever said it didn't :). I would also, however, make three other observations:

radical Islamist ideology also belongs to an "earlier age";
"old" ideologies can be pretty easily updated and spread with modern communications technologies; and
there are always politicians willing to see which way the people are going emotionally, jump in front of them and yell "Follow Me".Marc

goesh
04-20-2007, 02:45 PM
"Besides, I've lived in both western Pennsylvania and East New York" - who were your interpretors? LOL

Since when is Demographics an a priori consideration in the expansion of the Ummah? Purity obtained through the crucible is externalized via beheadings, suicide bombs and molotovs. Do you need to hear a banjo strumming in the background when I make the pronouncement that it takes 33,381, give or take a hundred or so, Europeans to negate one jihadist/activist?

tequila
04-20-2007, 02:58 PM
"Besides, I've lived in both western Pennsylvania and East New York" - who were your interpretors? LOL

Didn't need one, I already speak Bad English. :D


Since when is Demographics an a priori consideration in the expansion of the Ummah? Purity obtained through the crucible is externalized via beheadings, suicide bombs and molotovs. Do you need to hear a banjo strumming in the background when I make the pronouncement that it takes 33,381, give or take a hundred or so, Europeans to negate one jihadist/activist?

Uhhh ... what? Is that hillbilly math (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfgX0fyNeLc)now?


As far as "ravening hordes" are concerned, sure that image belongs to an earlier age - I ever said it didn't . I would also, however, make three other observations:

1. radical Islamist ideology also belongs to an "earlier age";
2. "old" ideologies can be pretty easily updated and spread with modern communications technologies; and
3. there are always politicians willing to see which way the people are going emotionally, jump in front of them and yell "Follow Me".


I'll just say that dumbassed old ideas need to be fought, not given the thumbs up --- whether they be Qutb's or Stoddard's.

goesh
04-22-2007, 01:38 AM
Those dumbassed old ideas have serious traction with astronomical economic attachments. Said economic attachments not only are oblivious to the wonderous illumination of alternative and liberating enlightement, but totally immune, indeed impenetrable. Can the candle flame of illumination nobody sees ever really burn? I was trying to work up a good banjo metaphor with real audacity to insert here but it dawns on me that the banjo vigorously picked with no strings also has a questionable audience, or at least one that is hearing impaired.:p