BAGHDAD, Jan. 22 — Ryan C. Crocker, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Iraq, warned Thursday that a precipitous withdrawal of American troops runs “some very serious risks,” from the resurgence of the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq to a collapse of faith in a nascent Iraqi state that still faces what he called “enormous challenges.”
A loss of confidence, Crocker said, could create a “chilling effect,” where people “pull back, dig the trenches, build the berms and get ready for what comes next. I’m not saying that that would happen; but I am saying these are dangers that could happen.”
Look, AQI was essentially formed — and gained power — in direct response to U.S. troop presence in Iraq. If we leave, AQI will lose its animus. But this is essentially secondary to larger flaws with neoconservative thinking on Iraq.
Namely, of primary concern is that continued military presence, and especially one that supports a certain regime, will necessarily forge unstable political situations because they are predicated on the unsure assumption of continued U.S. support. Establishing a stable polity in Iraq will mean reconciling differences currently held at bay by the U.S. military.
Beyond even this animating problem though, one thing you have to come to terms with is that accepting sub-optimal outcomes goes with the terroritory of horrible misguided military interventions. That means, as Crocker suggests, increased Iranian influence in the region and a government who isn’t a “beacon of democracy.” Democrats and liberals would be wise to be vigilant in reminding people that bad policies will yield bad outcomes; expecting a “transformation” in the Middle East was unrealistic.