Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Most Peculiar Comment

by Ken Houghton

In the Christian Science Monitor's piece today, "How will the Iraq war end?"* comes the most peculiar comment:
At least one US ally in the region remains grateful he is gone.

"Any Iraq will be better than Iraq under Saddam, because the Iraq of Saddam had the ability to threaten Israel," says Shlomo Brom, a senior fellow at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies and former head of the Israeli Defense Force's Strategic Planning Division.

Besides the revelation that we have more than one ally in the region, I was amazed to discover that Iraq was a direct threat to Israel. Indeed, the Holt, Rinehart, Winston world atlas confirms that "the ability to threaten Israel" would depend on going through Syria and/or Jordan.

The piece ends with this cheery thought:

Taking all these factors into account, success in Iraq at this point might be defined as a unified country that does not offer sanctuary to Islamic militants and is governed by a stable regime that is not under the influence of a hostile foreign power, such as Iran.

That, for example, is the bottom line of Andrew Krepinevich, a veteran Army planner and now president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Reaching this relatively stable state could take another three to five years – if it can be reached at all. Even then, the US might need to keep a substantial number of troops in the country – to keep Iraq's internal factions from going after one another and to protect the nation from its external enemies.

"A reasonable outcome would find something like 30,000 to 40,000 troops in Iraq for 25 to 50 years," says Dr. Krepinevich in an e-mail.

After all, the US has deployed troops in Germany and Japan for 63 years, and Korea for 57. Might Iraq, in the end, require a commensurate commitment?

I'm certain the troops in those three states are constantly on alert status as well. But at least Dr. Krepinevich is more optimistic than John McCain.

*Didn't it end on May 1st of 2003, with the "Mission Accomplished"/"I don't know how to wear a flight suit" speech? I'm so confused...

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