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 Post subject: Disorderly or Not, America Should Withdraw
PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 6:06 am 
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Disorderly or Not, America Should Withdraw

By William Pfaff

Foreign policy is normally formulated in terms of interests and threats. Since the dramatization of the terrorist threat by the al-Qaida attacks on the United States in 2001, the order has been reversed and analyses emphasize threats over interest. Yet threats are many, and interests—vital interests that concern the security of a nation—are by nature limited. When the two are confused, it is easy to fail to discriminate among necessity, prudence and advantage in making policy—and beyond that, to risk losing your grasp on what is feasible.

The New York Times published an editorial last week demanding that the American presidential candidates debate what they intend to do about “a swift and orderly withdrawal from Iraq.” Such a withdrawal surely is desirable, and is what Barack Obama has promised, but is it feasible?

What about a disorderly withdrawal? What if that is the only available withdrawal? In that case, is it the larger American interest to stay indefinitely in Iraq, fighting on for the sake of staying, or to leave in disorder?

What if the Iraq government tells the United States to leave, as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has threatened in his negotiations with Washington on what terms the United States would be allowed to stay beyond the U.N. mandate that ends Dec. 31. He has refused the U.S. demands originally made—for total extraterritoriality and sovereign freedom of action, together with authority to seize and imprison Iraqi individuals.

The Defense Department and this administration are ferociously committed to staying in Iraq, in order to hold onto the huge military bases constructed there, and for Iraq’s oil. They will pay a lot for that, but if Maliki should stick to his demand for Iraqi sovereignty over the U.S. military, they would look for an alternative. Perhaps a new Iraqi government? Maliki himself might gamble on a new government—a new one in Washington.



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