Thursday, July 27, 2006

Iraq Options

Frederick W. Kagan analyzes some of the options in Iraq. An excerpt:

The idea of creating some sort of Lebanon-type solution in Iraq is foolish for several reasons. First, Iraq is not Lebanon--its large numbers of ethnically mixed cities and regions would require substantial population movements to create stable ethnic zones. Since places like Baghdad and Mosul, two of Iraq’s largest cities, are also both heavily mixed and strategically important, it is almost inconceivable that such population movements could be accomplished without ethnic or sectarian violence on a vast scale. That violence would delay and disrupt progress toward any sort of new political solution and might well generate the kind of long-term vendetta mentalities that it has taken more than a decade of peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia just to keep under control. Nor has the Lebanon solution produced a Lebanon that is stable and able to resist the control of stronger neighbors, as recent events have made clear. Instability in a tiny country with few resources might be stra-tegically acceptable; instability in a country like Iraq, with vast oil reserves and troublous neighbors, is intolerable. Any solution that weakens the power of the central Iraqi government positively invites increased Iranian intervention, and perhaps the meddling of Iraq’s Sunni Arab neighbors in response. Such interventions would further destabilize and delegitimize the Iraqi government, increasing the likelihood of its total collapse.

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