In response to Dan Nexon's December 19 post on "Why the United States shouldn't withdraw from Iraq: abridged version," I explained in the comments why the U.S. should withdraw. This is even more truncated than Dan's post:
...I share [Dan's] great concern about US moral responsibility.Expect light blogging for awhile -- major holidays approach.
However, I also believe that the evidence reveals that the US presence in Iraq has caused tremendous harm -- initially by creating targets for violence and by serving as a rallying cry for global recruitment for al Qaeda, but then also by provoking mass migration, by effectively dividing the country into ethnic enclaves, and by empowering dubious armed factions that threaten the Iraqi state.
Thus, I favor a phased withdrawal of US troops that will likely be accompanied by some sort of regional and/or international policy/peace force. The reduction of military support for Iraq likely has to be matched by a diplomatic, development and peace offensive.
The current lull in violence, whatever the cause, may provide an opportunity that won't recur again for some time.
In sum, I would base policy on the scholarship of people like James Fearon, who seems to know a lot about civil war, and Roland Paris, who knows an awful lot about their aftermath.
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