Forecasts for the American Expedition to Iraq.

What comes next in Iraq? Here are some straight-line extrapolations. Nothing certain, but these seem like good bets.

American public support for the Iraq War has evolved to the tipping point -- the critical level at which mainstream politicos move to explicit opposition. In this sense Iraq is a second Vietnam: a foreign war in which a US President arrogantly attempts to outlast strongly-rooted local opposition.

The US will begin a major withdrawal of its forces, probably in the first half of 2006. The key election date is not December 17 (Iraq’s Parliament), but November 4, 2006 (US Congress).

Once we begin large-scale withdrawals, probably also relocating our remaining forces to bases in the Iraq deserts, our influence in Iraq will rapidly disappear.

The Iraq "National" governing structure will not long survive our departure, as they lack sufficient loyal troops to keep them in power. The ethnic militias pretending to be parts of the Iraq Army will revert to their true roles, serving local, ethnic, or sectarian interests.

Power will move to regional leaders with armed militias. Many previously powerful political and religious leaders will find themselves marginalized, as ethnic and religious hierarchies adjust to accommodate upstarts commanding young men with guns.

Neither Sunni nor Shiite Arab militia leaders have any need for our support, nor want foreign infidel armies on their soil. The Kurds will no longer need us. Hence all parties will call for rapid US withdrawal of forces once we become “lame ducks” in Iraq. This will remove any remaining support for the Iraq Expedition among global governments and the US public. Combined military action against Coalition forces is possible should we linger too long...

Implications of this forecast – what should we do next?

Rather than focus on what to do next, our political elites remain locked in a debate over responsibility for past mistakes.

Rome did well by avoiding these, even in the worst depths of the Punic Wars.

They executed the occasional general -- often for insufficient aggressiveness, almost never for failures (e.g. Cannae). But typically with no interruption in the process of crushing their enemies.

Perhaps we should turn for advice to those who warned against the Iraq Expedition. Some of this small group have recommended “exit strategies,” and here we encounter another anomaly: experts who advised against the Iraq Expedition, see that it has failed, but still search for a method to make it work on some level.

Perhaps it is an American characteristic to combine hope with tenacity. "Can do, Sir!"...
Lessons Learned from the American Expedition to Iraq.

The mainstream media remains focused on assigning blame for the war, with occasional reports on current events and discussions of exit strategies.

Let’s attempt to see the bigger picture.

Defeat seems the appropriate description for the American expedition to Iraq. Consider the cost!

Hundreds of billions of dollars spent, all in effect borrowed from Asia.

Thousands of Coalition soldiers dead, tens of thousands wounded. And, of course, uncounted thousands of Iraq civilian killed and wounded.

For what?

To establish some form of Kurdish state? The Turkish Government, among our stronger allies, will not thank us for this.

To establish Islamic State(s) in the Arab regions of Iraq? Probably difficult to sell this to the American people as “victory.” Certainly an odd aspect of our “War on Terror.”

To establish a Shiite State in southern Iraq? Good news for Iran, a charter member of the “Axis of Evil.” Bad news for Iraq’s southern neighbor, Saudi Arabia, most of whose oil fields lie in Shiite tribal areas.

Perhaps we can redeem ourselves by learning lessons of sufficient value.

Lessons learned #1: Avoid Third World colonial wars...

Lessons learned #2: The necessity for courage and integrity in our officers...

Lessons learned #3: What is the real threat to the US? How should we respond?...

Lessons learned #4: How might we adjust to defeat in Iraq?...

Lessons Learned #5: There is a flaw in our current force structure...

Lessons learned #6: There is a structural flaw in our government...