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The War in Iraq: An Interim Assessment

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Several external powers, fearing the consequences of American success, while also sensing American weakness, have maneuvered to gain advantage in the current conflict and hedge against a potential lack of US resolve. A number of Sunni Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and Syria, have provided support, directly or indirectly, to the Sunni insurgent movement and the jihadists. They are concerned that fellow Sunni Arabs in Iraq may reap the whirlwind they have sewn over decades through their persecution of the Shiites and Kurds. The Saudis also fear that American fecklessness will lead to a premature withdrawal of US troops, leaving Iraq in a state of civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. Neither Syria nor Saudi Arabia wants to see an Iranian- dominated Iraq emerge from such a conflict. They also fear US success, which might lead to a democratic Iraq whose gains might lead other ArabsMuslims to challenge their own despotic regimes. Thus the frontline Sunni Arab states are hedging against the possibility that the Iran-Iraq war may be refought, only this time in within Iraq as opposed to along its borders. In short, in a part of the world where strength and resolve are respected and weakness and vacillation exploited, the perception of US fecklessness has a compounding negative effect. It both discourages Americas potential allies in this war, and encourages its enemies. This works to further undermine the US publics resolve and may, over time, deplete the US militarys morale. It appears the American people do not appreciate how high the stakes are in this conflict. Iraq may have begun as a war of choice however, it has become a war of necessity. The costs of failure in Iraq are likely to be high-much higher than was incurred following the US withdrawal from Haiti, Somalia, Lebanon or even Vietnam.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Unconventional Warfare

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