Here’s another explanation of why Iraq isn’t Vietnam, this one from Charles Krauthammer. Much more interesting, to me, than Krauthammer’s discussion of Vietnam is his proposed exit strategy for Iraq. Recent events have caused Krauthammer to conclude, not unreasonably, that a “democratic Iraq in which the factions negotiate their differences the way we do in the West. . .may be a bridge too far.” Accordingly, he argues that “we should lower our ambitions and see Iraqi factionalization as a useful tool. Try to effect, within the agreed interim constitution, a transfer of power to the more responsible elements of the Shiite majority, the moderates who see Sadr as the Iranian agent and fascistic thug that he is.” What if the Sunnis resist, as they almost surely will? In that event, “it will then be up to the Shiites to fight [the ensuing civil war], not for Americans to do it on their behalf.”
Krauthammer concedes that this outcome isn’t perfect, but claims it is one we could live with. I wonder, though — a civil war, followed perhaps by a partition of Iraq with part of the territory under the control of Ba’athists and another part under the control of Shiite moderates, but always subject to pressure from Shiite radicals supported by Iran. Would that outcome justify our efforts in Iraq?
Krauthammer urges us not to overreact to the recent uprisings and to resist despair. But arguably his exit strategy is the product of overreaction and something like despair.
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