Seriously, the Jefe is still trying to catch up on a backlog of work, so posting is apt to be light today and possibly tomorrow. In the meantime, go over to Real Clear Politics and have a look at Tom Bevan’s post on his blog “The Stakes in Iraq.” Mr. Bevan discussed a recent lecture by Dr. Robert O'Neill, the former Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
Professor O’Neill is the former Chichele Professor of the History of War at Oxford. In any case, the Professor’s lecture on “Prospects and Perspectives on International Security,” delivered at the Lowy Institute in Australia, had lots to say on Iraq. The lecture is nine pages, and worth printing out and reading in full (you can find a link on Mr. Bevan’s page and here), but here’s the money quote on Iraq:
Given the result of the recent US elections, we need to think hard about the consequences of possible defeat in Iraq. To elaborate on what I said earlier, that conflict can be won only by a much more effective coalition effort, requiring a major increase in US and allied troop numbers in Iraq, substantial improvements in training and operational methods, and a much stronger civil reconstruction effort. This is not likely to happen. The probable outcomes are either a sudden descent into chaos as coalition forces are withdrawn, or a protracted civil war, overlain with an insurgency against remaining coalition forces.
In the event of chaos, effective government in Iraq will cease for at least some years, during which terrorist groups will be able to concentrate, rebuild, flourish and reach out to other targets outside Iraq. Enemy forces will be heartened; recruiting will rise; funds and weapons will pour in; pressure will be exerted on regional governments friendly to the West; more young men and women who are willing to commit suicide to harm Western and Israeli interests will become available; and the oil price will rise to new heights.
Defeat in Iraq will be a serious blow to the public standing of the US and will invite other challenges to its authority. US citizens will have to be more careful of their own security both outside and inside their own country. US business abroad will feel more under threat of terrorist action.
I am amazed to the degree which Americans both want to, and think that it is possible to return the national focus to primarily domestic concerns, such as the minimum wage, pollution, income inequality, fighting over judges and gay marriage. The recent congressional election results appears to me to have not only been a vote against the war (which has at the least been poorly managed), but expressive of a tremendous public desire to return to the 90’s and tell the outside world to go hang itself. Unfortunately, the real world is going to come knocking.