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The consequences of american withdrawal from iraq

American combat forces have already left Iraq. And although Obama agreed to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, he has stated firmly that he intends to begin drawing down the U.

Is this the right decision? That is not the question that will be discussed here. For once the withdrawals have been completed, or even just begun in earnest, it is highly unlikely that they will be reversed even by a subsequent Republican administration. The more important question to explore is this: Forecasting, of course, is hazardous.

There are, though, some highly likely consequences of this decision that should be noted. First and foremost among these is that Washington will have less influence in these two countries as its withdrawals from them proceed. If the United States was hard-pressed to control events in them even with a large troop presence, it is obviously going to be less able to do so with substantially fewer or none. Specifically, withdrawing its troops from Iraq means the United States will be unable to prevent the outbreak of renewed sectarian violence there.

Withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan means that the United States will be unable to prevent an even greater resurgence of the Taliban than has been occurring while American troops are still there.

Another likely consequence of a U. A third consequence is likely to result from the previous two: If they perceive the United States as less willing and able to defend them, then they may decide that they need to make alternative security arrangements.

  1. But the Republicans' claim that ISIS grew because Obama withdrew troops from Iraq still glosses over many other factors beyond America's control — like the fact that the rift between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq has been going on for centuries. The Iraqi parliamentarians would never OK such a decision, with Iraqi popular opinion staunchly against U.
  2. Could President Obama have showed more enthusiasm?
  3. British forces and other coalition allies have long since departed — or given up the ghost.
  4. For the record, the gravestone marking this calamitous misadventure will duly read.
  5. The Iraqi parliamentarians would never OK such a decision, with Iraqi popular opinion staunchly against U.

These could range from preemptively attacking their opponents, attempting to reach a modus vivendi with them, or seeking out other allies either in addition to or in place of the United States. Whether any of these alternative security arrangements would prove successful if attempted, of course, remains to be seen. Just the attempt to implement any of them, though, could increase the volatility of an already volatile region. Of course, the presence of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has done nothing to ease them either.

In other words, there are many problems in the region that are likely to continue no matter what happens in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is not inevitable, of course, that all the consequences of american withdrawal from iraq these problems will emerge following an American withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. Some, though, probably cannot be avoided — especially the reduction of U.

The emergence of just these two problems alone will lead to a more challenging foreign-policy environment for the United States.

Yet even if all five of the problems outlined here emerge, the United States and its allies will still have options and opportunities for limiting the spread of Islamic radicalism as well as for contributing to the erosion of its influence in those places where it has become politically dominant.

For in addition to the trends outlined here that would serve to weaken American influence, three other trends could emerge which might strengthen it. The United States and its Western allies, after all, are not the only forces resisting Islamic radicalism.

There are others in this region — who will remain in it after an American departure — that also oppose the spread of Islamic radicalism. They also include governments — both pro- and anti-Western such as secular nationalist Syria — in states neighboring or near Iraq or Afghanistan that fear the growth of an Islamist opposition in their own countries. In other words, the United States is not the only force opposing Islamic radicals. Instead of collapsing after an American troop withdrawal, powerfully motivated locally-based forces may emerge that might succeed in containing them, especially if the United States provides support for this.

In addition, al-Qaeda and other radical Islamic forces that believe they have compelled the United States to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan are hardly likely to behave magnanimously in what they believe to be victory. On previous occasions when Islamic radicals gained power including in Iran after 1979, Sudan after 1989, most of Afghanistan after 1996, part of Somalia after 1999, and parts of Iraq in the mid-2000sthey ruled in an intolerant, uncompromising and dictatorial manner.

Indeed, their doing so contributed to the rise of local opposition against them. Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, al-Qaeda in Iraq and similar movements have given little reason for anyone to believe that they would behave any more moderately in future as they attempt to gain power or actually do so. And those whom the Islamic radicals oppress are potential allies against them — as was demonstrated in late 2001, when so many Afghans joined with a relatively small number of American troops in toppling the Taliban.

Finally, the prospects for divisions within the ranks of the Islamic the consequences of american withdrawal from iraq should not be discounted, especially because these are both highly likely to occur and will be highly significant when they do.

  1. Above all, the US must take a hard look at its foreign policy. Whatever else, the war has left the US with its international position weakened; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may bark, but she can hardly bite.
  2. Radical Sunnis have repeatedly attacked Shia communities in Pakistan. Obama seemed to feel he couldn't force an unwanted agreement on the Iraqi people, and he didn't work with Mr.
  3. Maliki was not rapport but the coldblooded calculus of pluses and minuses affecting his political fortunes.
  4. And their view matters since, as many regional analysts believe, it was Tehran, not Washington, that "won" the war in Iraq.
  5. Maliki as President Bush had.

In Iraq, we have already witnessed how radical Sunnis and radical Shias often fight each other despite their common opposition to the American military presence. There have also been other examples of Sunni-Shia hostility. Radical Sunnis have repeatedly attacked Shia communities in Pakistan.

US withdrawal from Iraq is a beginning, not an ending

Al-Qaeda has criticized the radical Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah. There have also been important differences between Shias the chief Shia cleric in Iraq, Ayatollah Sistani, does not accept the principle of veliayet-e faqih, which the Islamic Republic of Iran uses to justify the rule of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Similarly, there have been important differences between Sunnis, as when al-Qaeda criticized the radical Sunni movement Hamas.

  • Sowell saw State's decision as a deliberately insurmountable obstacle;
  • Hence, the first task confronting Robert Gates, nominated to be the new secretary of defense, and his eventual successors must be to rebuild them to the point where they may again be used if necessary.

Ironically, differences among Islamic radicals are likely to grow stronger if they perceive American influence in the region to be declining, and hence less of a common threat to them. The emergence of any or especially all of these three trends — local opposition to Islamic radicals, intolerant behavior on the part of Islamic radicals believing themselves victorious, and divisions among Islamic radicals — would provide the U.

The likelihood of these three trends emerging will each be examined in turn. Links to many of his publications can be found on his website: