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The U.S. Needs to Disentangle Itself from Iraq

Ranj Alaaldin also wants [1] the U.S. to make things in Iraq worse:

The Kurdish defeat in Kirkuk was also defeat for the United States — but Washington can recover and regain its foothold in Iraq. It needs to establish red lines in the region that Tehran is not allowed to cross, under the threat of U.S. intervention against its proxies and interests, and under the threat that it may provide Kurdish forces with the weapons and training to act as an effective counterweight to Iranian power.

There is no compelling reason for the U.S. to do any of these things. Whatever else might be said about it, the Iraqi government’s capture of Kirkuk was not a “defeat” for the U.S., and there is no need for Washington to “recover” anything. The U.S. shouldn’t want and doesn’t need to have a “foothold” in Iraq, and trying to maintain one will be very costly while offering little or nothing in the way of benefits. The U.S. certainly doesn’t need to plunge into a new conflict against Iran and its proxies, and it definitely shouldn’t use the Kurds as a pawn as part of an anti-Iranian campaign. Doing this would expose U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria to attack, and it doesn’t serve any discernible American security interest. Instead, the U.S. should be trying to extricate itself from Iraq as quickly as it can, and Washington should give up on the idea that it has the first clue how to succeed in that country. U.S. intervention since 2003 has done a great deal to create the current situation, and we shouldn’t kid ourselves that more intervention will produce better results.

16 Comments (Open | Close)

16 Comments To "The U.S. Needs to Disentangle Itself from Iraq"

#1 Comment By Christian Chuba On October 16, 2017 @ 7:14 pm

Gasp, the central govt ‘captured’ one of its large cities from an ethnic minority. A city that had a mixed population that never belonged to that ethnic minority.

Funny that Iran is being blamed for ‘destabilizing’ activities. By any objective measure, us offering direct military aid to a separatist group is by definition ‘destabilizing’. The Shiite militias have pledged loyalty to the Central Govt.

Even if you hate the Iraq govt and the Shiites, if the criteria is ‘stability’ then it is the U.S. not Iran that is guilty of it.

#2 Comment By Mike On October 16, 2017 @ 7:21 pm

why in the world would anyone listen to this kid, Ranj??

#3 Comment By cka2nd On October 16, 2017 @ 7:45 pm

And this person is a visiting scholar at Brookings, not AEI or one of the other traditional hotbeds of neo-con insanity! Truly, the entire U.S. foreign policy establishment, and it’s “visiting scholars,” have been infected with the bug of imperial stupidity.

My hair can’t take much more of this.

#4 Comment By a spencer On October 16, 2017 @ 8:01 pm

Alaaldin writes – as will many pundits – of “Kurdish defeat” when he should be talking specifically about Barzani and his neocon friends.

Looking at his article and using control f, “Barzani”:
“not found”.

Seems fairly clear that PUK struck a deal with Hashd and simply left Barzani’s crew out of it. I also saw a report late today that Barzani is telling his people to leave Slemani and the PUK is expected to do the same regarding Erbil. Fun replay of the Kurdish Civil War this is shaping up to be.

Mike, Alaaldin’s article from September 22 is titled “Don’t underestimate Kurdistan’s resilience”. Heh.

Also interesting that the crying about “where is the US?” started immediately. The US is right where we said we’d be. The US told them it didn’t support the referendum. Barzani’s crowd turned around and did it anyway.

#5 Comment By what they really want On October 16, 2017 @ 8:14 pm

These Middle East “scholars” know a good thing when they see it. The last thing they want to see is for Uncle Sam to gather his toys, pocket his fat wallet, and leave the region.

No sir. Middle East “scholars” need Uncle Sam around to pay their salaries, subsidize lots of travel to conferences of various kinds, and of course they need him to send American troops to fight and die for their clients or other amour propres.

And the American taxpayer is supposed to pay for all of it. Forever.

#6 Comment By We’re Outta Here!! On October 16, 2017 @ 8:16 pm

I agree.


“Now” isn’t soon enough for me.

#7 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On October 16, 2017 @ 9:07 pm

And this person is a visiting scholar at Brookings, not AEI or one of the other traditional hotbeds of neo-con insanity!

Brookings gets a lot of funding from Arab countries. One of their top officials is Martin Indyk, who is a neocon. There is literally no institution in DC that has not sold out to foreign interests. You and I just get to live in the imperium – the imperium is run for the benefit of others.


#8 Comment By liberal On October 16, 2017 @ 10:14 pm

Re Brookings:

First, as far as overall ideological bent is concerned, B. hasn’t been “liberal” in decades. It’s at best centrist.

Second, as far as foreign policy analysis is concerned, Michael O’Hanlon has been at B. for a long time. AFAICT he supported the invasion of Iraq. IIRC he also supports wasting lots of money on ballistic missile defense.

#9 Comment By EliteCommInc. On October 17, 2017 @ 1:12 am

“Even if you hate the Iraq govt and the Shiites, if the criteria is ‘stability’ then it is the U.S. not Iran that is guilty of it.”

Not quite. While our invasion provided the means in. Th Iranians have been at it full force since our invasion. I suspect that they are in deep and it would take more than a reinvasion to root them out.

Our policy in the region is going to be experiencing the repercussions of removing Pres Hussein for a long time, as will the Iraqis on multiple sides of the fence.

#10 Comment By Stephen On October 17, 2017 @ 8:31 am

“U.S. intervention since 2003 has done a great deal to create the current situation…”

True, but truth be told what STARTED the CURRENT situation was the US Gulf War in 1991 and the subsequent no-fly zone over parts of Iraq. That no-fly zone allowed the Kurds to recover and create the kernel of their own separate state, which in turn set them on a path to where we find them today. Events of 2003+ were a major contribution to that, but it all started in 1991.

#11 Comment By Proxy Breakfast On October 17, 2017 @ 9:25 am

@Janwaar Bibi – “Brookings gets a lot of funding from Arab countries.”

From Qatar. The got so much funding from Qatar that they were able to open a center in Doha, leading to a New York Times investigation of Brookings regarding Qatar’s buying influence and diplomatic cover in Washington. Ranj Alaaldin is affiliated with “Brookings Doha”.

“One of their top officials is Martin Indyk, who is a neocon. “

Calling Indyk a neocon is an injustice to neocons. A real slitherer. Foreign born, AIPAC, multiple investigations by law enforcement and the media (including about Qatar’s funding of Brookings), and still kicking.

#12 Comment By SteveK9 On October 17, 2017 @ 8:09 pm

Iran is going to help us ‘disentangle’, with an assist from Russia.

#13 Comment By Patrick D On October 18, 2017 @ 1:01 am

“Brookings gets a lot of funding from Arab countries.”

That would be The Brookings Institute, home of the Center for Middle East Policy formerly known as the Saban Center for Middle East Policy in honor of the $13 million donation from Haim “I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel” Saban.

FYI, Qatar donated $14.8 million and (rightly) caused a fuss yet the one issue Israeli-American guy donated $13 million and… crickets.

#14 Comment By b. On October 18, 2017 @ 2:44 pm

To “extricate” from Iraq, the US has to extricate its various personnel from Syria first. Short of a foreign policy committed to an end of the Terror of Global Meddling, neither will happen.

#15 Comment By One Guy On October 18, 2017 @ 6:32 pm

We can’t even get our troops out of Niger.

#16 Comment By Come On Home On October 18, 2017 @ 9:33 pm

The title of this article is rather too hopeful.

Because what the US needs to disentangle itself from isn’t Iraq. It’s Israel.

Do that and you’ll be shocked how quickly the rest will follow.