How bad would it be? Besides stopping killing by US citizens (and US citizens getting killed, maimed, scarred) would a US exit from Iraq result in chaos? Reporting about the results of war games (how come that phrase sounds oxymoronic?) conducted by the US military, Karen DeYoung and Thomas Ricks of the Washington (DC, US) Post examined this question in “Exit Strategies: Would Iran Take Over Iraq? Would Al-Qaeda? The Debate About How and When to Leave Centers on What Might Happen After the U.S. Goes.”
If U.S. combat forces withdraw from Iraq in the near future, three developments would be likely to unfold. Majority Shiites would drive Sunnis out of ethnically mixed areas west to Anbar province. Southern Iraq would erupt in civil war between Shiite groups. And the Kurdish north would solidify its borders and invite a U.S. troop presence there. In short, Iraq would effectively become three separate nations.
Although the events that are likely to follow a US withdrawal would be “ugly,” according to a retired colonel interviewed by Ms. DeYoung and Mr. Ricks, they would not be as dire as the President George Bush threatens they would be. Things surely would settle.
As the people with whom Ms. DeYoung and Mr. Ricks spoke indicated, a withdrawal will need to be planful and well executed. The political impediments to removing US forces from Iraq seem more difficult than planning and executing a withdrawal, however.
Read the article by Ms. DeYoung and Mr. Ricks.