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Impact Of A Quick Pullout From Iraq

To stay or not to stay... Pulling US soldiers from Iraq may not be the right solution to the war in Iraq or the War on Terror.
by Mark N. Katz
Washington (UPI) May 09, 2006
The war in Iraq has become increasingly unpopular in America. Many are now calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from there. What, though, would happen if American forces left Iraq suddenly? To address this question, I ran a role playing game in my War on Terrorism class at George Mason University.

The game began with the announcement of a full, quick (100 day) American withdrawal from Iraq. What happened subsequently in the game, of course, would not necessarily occur in reality. What happened in the game, though, is something that could well take place -- and so deserves to be taken seriously.

Since it is unimaginable that President George W. Bush would order the rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, the game began on January 20, 2009 with the inauguration of President Hillary Clinton, who announced that this pullout would take place by May 1, 2009. President Clinton was ably played by Charmaine Mitchell, who is a Canadian, the mother of four, and an opponent of the war in Iraq. Indeed, it was she who suggested this scenario.

Other students played various Iraqi actors (Shiite, Sunni, Kurdish), Russia, China, Britain, France, Iran, Turkey, Syria, the Saudi government, the Saudi opposition, Israel, Hamas, al-Qaida, various U.S. government officials (Secretary of Defense, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and Senate Republican Leader), and American public opinion.

Most Iraqi and Muslim actors welcomed the announcement of the U.S. pullout. But contention among them quickly arose. There was squabbling not only between the Sunni and Shiite communities, but within each of them too. When the Kurds indicated that they might (but not necessarily would) seek independence, Turkey announced that it would invade northern Iraq to stop them. Further, with the Americans leaving Iraq, Iran no longer feared a U.S. invasion and so announced that it had acquired nuclear weapons.

The American team tried desperately to resolve conflicts among the different Iraqi actors before the pullout was complete. The Iraqis, however, essentially ignored these American efforts and concentrated on seeking support from their various neighbors -- the Shiites from Iran, and the Sunnis from Saudi Arabia. The Kurds offered oil concessions to the French in return for Paris threatening to veto Turkish efforts to join the EU if it attacked the Kurds.

Other problems developed. Increasingly seeing Saudi Arabia as its main opponent in Iraq, an emboldened Iran began assisting Shiites opposition forces in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province. Hamas and the Sunni opposition in Saudi Arabia took advantage of the general chaos to work toward their own ends. Russia and China began aiding various actors just in the hope of gaining something out of the growing crisis.

As the game proceeded, President Clinton and her team became increasingly fearful of how the situation in and around Iraq was deteriorating as well as frustrated at America's inability to prevent this. Consequently, President Clinton finally announced (to her surprise) that the American withdrawal from Iraq would be postponed for five years. At this point, I ended the game and we all discussed what had happened and why.

Everyone, no matter what role they played, expressed great frustration. Some of the internal Iraqi actors realized that things would not go well for them after the U.S. left. But once the U.S. was leaving, they had to make the best of it and work with whoever would help them. Even then, nobody felt that they benefited from the situation.

What emerged most clearly is that no matter how awful the situation with American troops still there may be, it will get much worse after they leave both in Iraq and the surrounding region. America, then, may eventually face a difficult choice: withdraw from Iraq and lose much of its influence over events in what will undoubtedly become an increasingly chaotic situation in the region, or continue to pay the costs of staying in Iraq and have at least some influence in a region that already is chaotic enough.

Source: United Press International

Related Links

Pentagon Halts Deployment Of 3500 Troops To Iraq
Washington (AFP) May 09, 2006
Pentagon officials said Monday 3,500 fresh US troops will not deploy to Iraq as had been planned for early May, as commanders monitor security on the ground. "The Second Brigade, First Infantry Division, based in Schweinfurt, Germany, will not begin its deployment to Iraq in early May as scheduled," the Defense Department said in a statement.

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