Sunday, May 13, 2007

If We Leave

The Washington Monthly has a more rational take on 'Al Qaeda in Iraq' then we usually get-
"[T]here's a dirty little secret of the Iraq war that neither party is eager to acknowledge publicly: namely that the fastest way to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) is probably for us to leave and let the Iraqis do it themselves...

...If we leave Iraq, the country is unlikely in the extreme to become an al-Qaeda haven. Partly this is because it's rage at the American presence itself that provides a big part of the fuel for AQI's growth. Our withdrawal would eliminate that source of rage and devastate AQI's ability to continue its recruiting. Partly it's because, as we're seeing in Anbar province right now, even Sunni extremists don't like AQI. Left to their own devices they'll kill off AQI jihadists in order to protect their own tribal turf. And partly it's because once we withdraw, non-Kurdish Iraq will be free to finish its inevitable transition into a Shiite theocracy — a transition that's sadly unavoidable whether we stay or not. Yes, this transition will be bloody, but in the end Iraq will almost certainly be composed of the Kurdish north, which has no use for al-Qaeda; the remaining Sunni sheikhs, who also have no use for al-Qaeda; and the victorious Shiite central government itself, which likewise has no use for murderous Sunni jihadists on its soil. Between the three of them, AQI isn't likely to last a year.

Of all the reasons for staying in Iraq, a desire to finish off AQI is by far the least convincing. It's our presence that largely keeps AQI going, and our withdrawal is the surest way to ensure their demise. It won't happen without a lot of bloodshed, but it will happen."

Now, we don't know that this will happen, but it's an alternative take on the situation.

Time's Joe Klein has some related thoughts... here.


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