The ‘neocons’ however argue that withdrawing abruptly will produce a bloodbath – and that al-Qa’ida, which is currently operating with Sunni insurgents, will continue to do so making Iraq a base for terrorist operations against the West. Quoting Robert Kagan and William Kristal:
‘Some seem to believe that things are already as bad as they can get in Iraq. This is wilful self-deception. Were the US to withdraw from Iraq prematurely, the sectarian violence we are seeing today would seem minor compared with the bloodshed of a genuine civil war. There would be no decent interval, no moment when the Iraqi people peacefully separated themselves into their respective sectarian quarters. They would battle for control of cities and towns and resources across most of the country.Kagan and Kristal suggest instead boosting US forces in Iraq by 50,000. Such a strategy would do what previous strategies have not done: provide the number of US forces necessary to achieve even minimal political objectives in Iraq. Such an effort would begin by increasing US force levels in Iraq by at least 50,000 to clear and hold Baghdad, without shifting troops from other contested areas of Iraq.
The result would be real, bloody ethnic cleansing of the kind that the US twice intervened in the Balkans to prevent, of the kind we failed to prevent in Rwanda and of the kind we are shamefully failing to prevent in Sudan. The difference in Iraq would be that this time the US would be more directly responsible for bringing about this humanitarian nightmare’.
I hope those supporting withdrawal have a clearer view of the future than I do and that they understand this is not the occasion for academic anti-American parlor games. I can’t see how one can assess that things would be no worse than before the war. For one thing there is now no authoritarian dictator in charge and there is widespread civil strife with a host of recently established grudges and hatreds. On the other hand increasing US forces in Iraq by 50,000 does not seem plausible – more of the same does not seem a viable option given the difficulties experienced so far.