U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement.

Iraqi instability means Obama delays withdrawal
Associated Press, 5.11.2010, http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0511/reconsidering-pace-iraq-withdrawal/ “U.S. “Reconsidering” Pace of Iraq Withdrawal”

American commanders, worried about increased violence in the wake of Iraq's inconclusive elections, are now reconsidering the pace of a major troop pullout this summer, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

More than two months after parliamentary elections, the Iraqis have still not formed a new government, and militants aiming to exploit the void have carried out attacks like Monday's bombings and shootings that killed at least 119 people — the country's bloodiest day of 2010.The threat has prompted military officials to look at keeping as many troops on the ground, for as long as possible, without missing the Aug. 31 deadline. A security agreement between the two nations requires American troops to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

Two senior administration officials said the White House is closely watching to see if the Aug. 31 date needs to be pushed back — if only to ensure enough security forces are in place to prevent or respond to militant attacks. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the administration's internal discussions. Already, the violence, fueled by Iraq's political instability, will likely postpone the start of what the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. Ray Odierno, has called the withdrawal.
"From a military perspective, the best way for us to maintain security is to hold as many forces on the ground until we need to redeploy them," said one of the senior officials in Baghdad. The official said it would be wise for Odierno to wait as long as he can, given the unsettled political conditions in Iraq. At the Pentagon, "there's been a renewed focus on Iraq lately," said the senior military official there. He said all options were being considered, including later delays, adding that "we need to get out in an appropriate way ... not completely tied to a timeline."

The little progress made so far — the creation last week of a Shiite-dominated political alliance that could control Iraq's government and keep Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in power — appears so fragile that the U.S. Embassy's No. 2 official, Cameron Munter, described it as "a prenup, not a marriage. "If it holds, the partnership between al-Maliki's State of Law coalition and the religious Shiite Iraqi National Alliance threatens to anger Sunnis who heavily backed al-Maliki's main rival, Iraqiya. If Sunnis continue to feel sidelined, that in turn could fuel sectarian tensions and raise fears of new violence.

Late last month, Obama told advisers to "remain focused and not assume it'll all work out," according to another senior administration official. "Any drawdown tied to Iraq's politics in a precise way would seem to be in need of revision now," said Michael O'Hanlon, an Iraq expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "We had sort of assumed more progress by this point when first laying out the plan."

US military is at its breaking point
, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, January 20(“A Breaking Military Overextension Threatens Readiness”
Over 1.5 million American service members have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most military experts now agree that years of war and the spring 2007 “surge” have pushed our military to the breaking point. According to General George Casey, the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, “The demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply.”1
The consequences of our overextension are dire. General Peter Pace, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believes that there is a significant risk that the U.S. military would not be able to respond effectively if confronted by another crisis.2There have been serious issues with recruitment and retention. Despite investing more than $4 billion annually in recruitment,3 the Army and Marines have encountered serious difficulties getting enough people to enlist. Although recruitment figures have improved, the Army started the FY2008 recruiting year dramatically behind schedule.4
Retention costs have sky-rocketed to over $1 billion, six times the amount spent in 2003.5 As the Iraq war drags on, the military has seen an exodus of qualified junior and midlevel officers. Middle enlisted ranks are suffering similar shortfalls; in the first quarter of 2007, the re-enlistment rate of mid-grade enlisted soldiers dropped 12 percent. The military has responded to serious problems with recruitment by lowering age, education, and aptitude standards for new recruits and by increasing enlistment bonuses. In 2006, only 81% of enlistees had a regular high-school diploma.6 The maximum age for a new recruit has been raised from 35 to 42.7 The maximum acceptance of low-scoring troops on the enlistee aptitude test was increased from 2 to 4 percent in 2006. In 2006, 3.8 percent of first-time recruits had low scores.8 From 2004 to 2005, the number of recruits issued waivers for having committed ‘serious criminal misconduct’ rose by more than 54 percent.9The number of waivers continued to rise in 2006, reaching 8,129.10 In 2007, the percentage of recruits receiving waivers increased to 12 percent, from 10 percent last year.11 The Army’s expenditures for enlistment bonuses for active-duty, National Guard and Reserve troops have more than doubled from 2000 to 2005.12The military has also relied on multiple, extended combat tours and a ‘Backdoor Draft’ to fulfill their manpower needs. At least 449,000 troops have deployed more than once,13 and many have returned to war with only a few months’ rest. In the Army alone, 20 combat brigades have served two tours in Iraq, 9 have served three, and two have served four tours. 14 20,000 service members have been deployed at least five times.15The military has also held 70,000 troops on active-duty beyond their expected contract end-dates, relying on a controversial policy known as “Stop Loss.”16 Currently, 8,000 troops are still being held on Stop Loss orders.17 The military has also called up more than 10,000 veterans from the IRR, and relied on “cross-leveling” to help units meet personnel requirements for deployment. The overuse of the National Guard and Reserves poses a serious threat to national security. The reserve component makes up a major part of our force in Iraq—at times, as much as much as 40% of the force in theatre.18 One-thirdoftheLouisianaandMississippiNationalGuardweredeployedtoIraq or Afghanistan when Hurricane Katrina hit. According to the chief of the National Guard, Lt. General Blum, the reserve component is facing its worst state of readiness in 35 years.19 Equipment shortages have contributed to the plummeting readiness ratings of Army and Marine units and threaten our ability to cope with foreign threats and domestic emergencies. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have “consumed 40 percent”20 of the Army and Marines’ total gear, and much of the military’s equipment is in need of repair.21 As of September 2006, about 50% of all Army units have received the lowest possible readiness rating. About four-fifths of Army Guard and Reserve units not mobilized received the lowest possible readiness ratings.22
The Army has already received over $38 billion to repair or replace equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is asking for another $13 billion a year until the conflicts wind down.23 Equipment shortages have severely undercut military training, and hindered the response to national disasters. According to some military experts, 90 percent of National Guard units are not ready to respond to a domestic crisis.24

The war is massively draining our economy- along with the conservative estimates; hidden costs are more than that alone- tons of examples prove

There’s one other economic cost, interest. This is the first war in America’s history, probably in any country’s history, where we went to war when we had a deficit but in spite of that we had a tax cut just months after we went to war. The consequence of that is that this war has been put entirely on the credit card. So, while typically countries, when they go to war, ask their young people to risk their lives, those of us who are too old we say we ought to have a shared sacrifice and one form is to pay part of the cost. In this case, the shared sacrifice was to go to the shopping mall and enjoy a consumption binge while the young people were out fighting. It’s also the first war since the Revolutionary War in which we had to turn to a very large extent to foreigners to help finance the war, 40 percent of the debt has been financed abroad. That means, of course, that it’s like buying a car. When you borrow you have to pay the cost of the car but then you’d have to pay the interest, and you have to pay the interest on the interest if you’re not even paying the interest, and so the total cost accumulates. In the $3 trillion we don’t include these interest costs because many economists argue that that’s double counting, but in terms of the impact on the budget you really ought to include the interests costs and those are large numbers. These are some but not all of the budgetary costs; there are other budgetary costs. There are costs, for instance, on Medicare programs, costs under social security programs. One of the other scandals that has come out is that Halliburton got a very large contract for one of the main subsidiaries which operate out of the Cayman Islands. Why do they operate out of the Cayman Islands? So they don’t pay social security and Medicare taxes. Of course, they will get social security benefits and Medicare benefits, but it will come out of the rest of us paying those contributions. The argument the Bush administration used was well, maybe some of the savings from tax avoidance will be passed on to us. But, of course, it’s not setting a very good example for the rest of our economy to encourage people to avoid taxes by moving off to the Cayman Islands as their place of business. So, these are the budgetary costs and we looked a various scenarios and they are in order of magnitude of $2 to $2.7 trillion, but then there are a whole set of other costs that go beyond the budget and these are of two kinds—what economists would call micro-costs and macro-costs. The micro-costs are the costs that are faced by individuals, by firms, and by families as a result of the war. Let me give you just a couple of examples. When somebody dies the family gets what is called a “death gratuity” of $100,000. Now, that’s the budgetary cost, but the cost to our society of taking somebody who would have been productive for 40 or 50 years where we’ve invested in human capital, we’ve invested in education, and out of that production would be a loss to our society in order of magnitude greater than $100,000. The government does an unpleasant task, but it has to make an assessment of what is the value of life. If we have an environmental regulation, a safety regulation or automobile regulation, you’d say, “here’s the cost of the regulation” and then we have to say “what is the benefit?” and in many of these cases the benefit includes lives saved. You calculate how many lives will be saved because we changed the level of arsenic in water. There is a standard procedure that economists use to estimate which is called the value of a statistical life and the numbers are in the range basically of $7 million to about $20 million— it’s used by every government agency and used actually in many other kinds of suits in wrongful deaths, etc. The point I want to make is, whatever the number it’s much more than $100,000. The $100,000 is the budgetary cost, the cost to our economy, to our society is much much larger than that. And the same thing goes of course for an injury, but in the case of an injury there’s an additional cost which is that in one out of five families in which there is somebody seriously injured, and as I say, there have been a very large number of people who are very seriously incapacitated, someone in that family has to give up their job to take care of them. So, again, this is a cost of our economy. It’s not included in the government’s budget but it’s real, real. There are a lot of other costs that we haven’t been able to include, again an argument of why our numbers are so conservative. For instance, because many people can’t get health through the VA because the Bush Administration has not been financing the VA, those who can afford it go to private doctors. Well, that’s a real medical cost but it’s not showing up in the budget; it’s just being shifted. It doesn’t disappear; it gets shifted to the families of those who have served in Iraq. Finally, there are the macro-costs. What we argue in the book is that the economic woes the country is facing today are related to the war in Iraq, that in some ways in this election these two issues are one issue. But let me try to explain very quickly the relationship between our macro- economic problems and the war. There are actually two major connections: The first is perhaps the easiest to see and that is if we contrast the economic downturn that we had in 2001 and the current economic downturn, in 2001 when the economy slowed down we had a two percent GDP surplus, we had a lot of money

to use to combat the downturn to stimulate the economy. In 2007- 2008, and this is going to go on in 2009-2010, if the economy slows down we have, partly because of the war, a very large deficit. Our national debt has increased from $5.7 trillion to over $9 trillion and our deficit this year and next year will be at all-time record levels. So, with those high levels of deficits, even Bush’s former advisor, now chairman of the Fed, Bernanke, pointed out the big difference between 2001 and today is that we have much less room to maneuver. As we come to think about how to stimulate the economy we worry a lot more about resources and what it will do to our deficit, what it will do our future liabilities. So that’s one way in which the war has reduced our scope for action. There is actually a more direct connection though but it’s a chain reasoning. The war is responsible for at least part, and I think a substantial part, of the increase in the price of oil that has occurred since 2003. In 2003 the price of oil before the war was $23-$25 a barrel. Futures markets understood that there was going to be an increase in the demand from China, from the emerging markets and even from the United States and Europe but they predicted that there would be an increase in supply and that increase was going to come mostly from the Middle East which is a low cost provider. And so futures markets predicted that the price of oil was going to remain at $25 a barrel for the next ten years. But what upset that equation was the war. It was no longer attractive to invest in the Middle East in a low cost provider. Things were made worse by turmoil in other oil regions, so I don’t want to pretend that it was the only factor; it was one of the factors. Again, in our estimates to be conservative we only attribute $5 to $10 of the $75 increase in the price of oil to the war but I think most people think that we were vastly underestimating the role that is much larger than that. 4 Now what is the connection between the oil and the problems that we have? Again, there are several factors but one of them is that with the higher price of oil we had to spend much more money abroad to pay for the oil. We weren’t conserving, we were importing huge amounts of oil and the prices were going up and we had to spend more. In the past when oil prices shot up and people had to spend so much more on imported oil it weakened the economy because they were spending less at home and more abroad. In fact, when the prices went up in the ‘70s almost every region in the world went into a downturn. There was one region in the world that avoided the downturn, and I’ll come back to that because it seems that we followed their example. When we were looking at the data many things seemed strange. Here we were spending so much money abroad but the economy seemed to be going on pretty well unchanged. Some people suggested that we had repealed the laws of economics and whenever anybody says that you ought to be suspicious. It was actually pretty clear what was going on. The Fed, recognizing that the economy was weak, weaker than it otherwise would have been, did what it was suppose to do— although not quite the way it should have done—it tried to stimulate the economy and keep it going by letting out more liquidity, low interest rates and lax regulations. In a sense it worked. It fed the housing bubble, the housing bubble fed the consumption boom, and we were consuming so much that we could spend a lot of money in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other oil exporting countries and still have a lot of money to spend at home. America’s savings rate plummeted to the lowest level since the Great Depression—in some quarters negative and recently about .6 percent. But, of course, we were living on borrowed money and borrowed time. I said there was one region in the world that had avoided the impact of the oil shock of the ’70s and that was Latin America. How did they avoid it? Doing much like the United States by borrowing and borrowing and borrowing. And so they had a good ’70s when everybody else was suffering, but then what happened? They couldn’t pay back those debts and they have what is called the lost decade; a decade of stagnation as they tried to pay back the mountain of debt that they had accumulated during the ’70s to avoid dealing with the problems of the higher oil prices. We seemed to have learned the first chapter of what went on in Latin America without having read the second chapter and seeing where that all ended. So, we followed their lead in borrowing and it worked but we’re now having some of the same consequences as Latin America in the unraveling of excessive debt. So, that is the connection between our current problems and the war in a very simplistic way. There are other factors that might have led us to have this high level of lax regulations so we 5 There are other factors that might have led us to have this high level of lax regulations so we probably would have had problems anyway, but it is unambiguously clear that because the Fed had to offset the very negative effect of higher oil prices that related to the Iraq war, the problems today are much worse than they otherwise would have been. Market economies are able to absorb shocks of a certain magnitude, but when you get beyond a certain point that’s when things fall apart and it may have been actually, at least part of the factor that pushed us over the brink. Going from the $700 billion that the administration admits to, to $3-6 trillion in that sense not a difficult task. In fact, it’s very easy; it’s very hard to come up with numbers that are any less. When we first came out with the book the administration wasn’t very happy and it said something to the effect of “what about 9/11? Doesn’t your slide rule calculate that?” We responded in an obvious way “Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11,” and there was no connection with al Qaeda, and that was known even before we went to war in Iraq. The Bush administration came back with, I think, the right response “yes, war is expensive and that’s where they left it. They’ve never bothered to challenge in any respect our numbers, and they have yet to come out with their own numbers. Congress has asked them to come up with their numbers and they’ve refused. When I

testified in Congress I pointed out we should not have had to write this book. The administration should have told us all what it was costing. We can have different judgments about whether the benefits are worth the costs but we should all know what those costs are. We are pleased that partly because of our book Congress is now taking seriously the task of
providing estimates of those costs, and these costs estimates are very similar to those that we provide, that we discuss. There are two or three things that I want to talk about briefly. One question I get asked all the time is “why is this war so expense?” This war is very expensive. Previous wars, adjusting for inflation, cost around $50,000 per troop and this war is costing us $400,000 per troop. There are a number of factors of why this war is winding up to be so expensive—one of them is that there are a lot more disabilities. Partly this is attributed to modern medicine that they are surviving. There are fewer deaths and more disabled people. Actually, this is another one of the scandals. We had to use the Freedom of Information Act to find out how many people were being injured in this war. The administration, just like they didn’t want the people to see the caskets, they didn’t want to see the people coming back who were killed, they didn’t want the American people to know the number of people injured. So, on their website they report the number of deaths— whether they die in hostile or what they call non-hostile action and there is an ambiguity between what is hostile and non-hostile—but in the case of injury, they only report the hostile actions. Let me give you an example of what that means. If you have a convoy and the first vehicle in the convoy hits a mine or an explosive devise and blows up and there are injured, that’s a hostile action and that’s included. But if the second vehicle runs into the first vehicle which has exploded, that’s an automobile accident—not hostile. Or if you have a helicopter flying at night because it’s too risky to fly in the day because it might get shot down, and because it’s flying at night it has an accident that is not hostile. It turns out that the total number is about twice the number that are killed as hostile, and we had to use, working with the Veterans group, the Freedom of Information Act to find out these numbers. Again, I view that as an absolute scandal. When my colleague publicized that number she got a call from the Undersecretary of Defense, irate, who said, “How did you get that number?’ and we had to explain that we got it from them. They didn’t want us to have that number.

Economic strength is key to Heg

Robert A. Pape, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago specializing in international security affairs, March 8, 2009, Realities and Obama's diplomacy, Realities and Obama's diplomacy, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-perspec0308diplomacymar08,0,4785661.story

For nearly two decades, the U.S. has been viewed as a global hegemon—vastly more powerful than any major country in the world. Since 2000, however, our global dominance has fallen dramatically. During the Bush administration, the self-inflicted wounds of the __Iraq war__, growing government debt, increasingly negative current account balances and other internal economic weaknesses cost the U.S. real power in a world of rapidly spreading knowledge and technology. Simply put, the main legacy of the Bush years has been to leave the U.S. as a declining power.

From Rome to the United States today, the rise and fall of great nations have been driven primarily by economic strength. At any given moment, a state's power depends on the size and quality of its military forces and other power assets. Over time, however, power is a result of economic strength—the prerequisite for building and modernizing military forces. And so the size of the economy relative to potential rivals ultimately determines the limits of power in international politics.

(Charles, Published Journalist, 6/25/2010, The New American, Illusions of Empire, http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/history/world/3838-illusions-and-empire)

Where will it all end? If the verdict of history is any guide, America, like Britain, may well continue to squander her strength and blood waging “savage wars of peace” across the globe until her resources are exhausted. Over the past two decades, America has garrisoned most of the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East, and Central Asia; we have yet to withdraw voluntarily from any of those places. As with Britain, our empire has become bound up with our sense of prestige; too many of us are invested in the status quo, such that withdrawal — from Iraq and Afghanistan, especially — is seen by too many as a betrayal rather than a corrective. In a word, it is not at all certain that America will ever relinquish empire until she is compelled to do so, by the brutal laws of economics, human behavior, and history — “the gods of the copybook headings,” Rudyard Kipling called them — which brook no defiance in the long run. 

On the other hand, what might it take to steer America away from the destructive, debilitating, potentially suicidal path of empire? A return to constitutional government would be a tremendous start. Merely reasserting the congressional prerogative to declare war would greatly curtail American wars of pure aggression, like the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Illegal wars and consequent occupations, like those of Yugoslavia and the Korean Peninsula, would be nullified and occupying forces brought home. The Koreans, the Japanese, the Europeans, Turkey, the republics of Central Asia — all these would become responsible for their own defense.

Of course, any proposal to withdraw from our many so-called “obligations” overseas will provoke howls of protest from the commentariat, as we have seen with the 2008 Ron Paul presidential campaign. Yet ultimately we will have no choice in the matter. American military hegemony will only last for a brief moment, indeed, is already threatened by imperial overstretch combined with economic malaise. We will not be the world’s only superpower forever.

[Robert, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund, “End of Dreams, Return of History”, Hoover Institution - Stanford U, in Policy Review, No 144, http://www.hoover.org/publications/policyreview/8552512.html#n10]

Finally, there is the United States itself. As a matter of national policy stretching back across numerous administrations, Democratic and Republican, liberal and conservative, Americans have insisted on preserving regional predominance in East Asia; the Middle East; the Western Hemisphere; until recently, Europe; and now, increasingly, Central Asia. This was its goal after the Second World War, and since the end of the Cold War, beginning with the first Bush administration and continuing through the Clinton years, the United States did not retract but expanded its influence eastward across Europe and into the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. Even as it maintains its position as the predominant global power, it is also engaged in hegemonic competitions in these regions with China in East and Central Asia, with Iran in the Middle East and Central Asia, and with Russia in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. The United States, too, is more of a traditional than a postmodern power, and though Americans are loath to acknowledge it, they generally prefer their global place as “No. 1” and are equally loath to relinquish it. Once having entered a region, whether for practical or idealistic reasons, they are remarkably slow to withdraw from it until they believe they have substantially transformed it in their own image. They profess indifference to the world and claim they just want to be left alone even as they seek daily to shape the behavior of billions of people around the globe.
The jostling for status and influence among these ambitious nations and would-be nations is a second defining feature of the new post-Cold War international system. Nationalism in all its forms is back, if it ever went away, and so is international competition for power, influence, honor, and status. American predominance prevents these rivalries from intensifying — its regional as well as its global predominance. Were the United States to diminish its influence in the regions where it is currently the strongest power, the other nations would settle disputes as great and lesser powers have done in the past: sometimes through diplomacy and accommodation but often through confrontation and wars of varying scope, intensity, and destructiveness. One novel aspect of such a multipolar world is that most of these powers would possess nuclear weapons. That could make wars between them less likely, or it could simply make them more catastrophic.
It is easy but also dangerous to underestimate the role the United States plays in providing a measure of stability in the world even as it also disrupts stability. For instance, the United States is the dominant naval power everywhere, such that other nations cannot compete with it even in their home waters. They either happily or grudgingly allow the United States Navy to be the guarantor of international waterways and trade routes, of international access to markets and raw materials such as oil. Even when the United States engages in a war, it is able to play its role as guardian of the waterways. In a more genuinely multipolar world, however, it would not. Nations would compete for naval dominance at least in their own regions and possibly beyond. Conflict between nations would involve struggles on the oceans as well as on land. Armed embargos, of the kind used in World War i and other major conflicts, would disrupt trade flows in a way that is now impossible.
Such order as exists in the world rests not merely on the goodwill of peoples but on a foundation provided by American power. Even the European Union, that great geopolitical miracle, owes its founding to American power, for without it the European nations after World War ii would never have felt secure enough to reintegrate Germany. Most Europeans recoil at the thought, but even today Europe ’s stability depends on the guarantee, however distant and one hopes unnecessary, that the United States could step in to check any dangerous development on the continent. In a genuinely multipolar world, that would not be possible without renewing the danger of world war.
People who believe greater equality among nations would be preferable to the present American predominance often succumb to a basic logical fallacy. They believe the order the world enjoys today exists independently of American power. They imagine that in a world where American power was diminished, the aspects of international order that they like would remain in place. But that ’s not the way it works. International order does not rest on ideas and institutions. It is shaped by configurations of power. The international order we know today reflects the distribution of power in the world since World War II, and especially since the end of the Cold War. A different configuration of power, a multipolar world in which the poles were Russia, China, the United States, India, and Europe, would produce its own kind of order, with different rules and norms reflecting the interests of the powerful states that would have a hand in shaping it. Would that international order be an improvement? Perhaps for Beijing and Moscow it would. But it is doubtful that it would suit the tastes of enlightenment liberals in the United States and Europe.

The current order, of course, is not only far from perfect but also offers no guarantee against major conflict among the world ’s great powers. Even under the umbrella of unipolarity, regional conflicts involving the large powers may erupt. War could erupt between China and Taiwan and draw in both the United States and Japan. War could erupt between Russia and Georgia, forcing the United States and its European allies to decide whether to intervene or suffer the consequences of a Russian victory. Conflict between India and Pakistan remains possible, as does conflict between Iran and Israel or other Middle Eastern states. These, too, could draw in other great powers, including the United States.
Such conflicts may be unavoidable no matter what policies the United States pursues. But they are more likely to erupt if the United States weakens or withdraws from its positions of regional dominance. This is especially true in East Asia, where most nations agree that a reliable American power has a stabilizing and pacific effect on the region. That is certainly the view of most of China ’s neighbors. But even China, which seeks gradually to supplant the United States as the dominant power in the region, faces the dilemma that an American withdrawal could unleash an ambitious, independent, nationalist Japan.
In Europe, too, the departure of the United States from the scene — even if it remained the world’s most powerful nation — could be destabilizing. It could tempt Russia to an even more overbearing and potentially forceful approach to unruly nations on its periphery. Although some realist theorists seem to imagine that the disappearance of the Soviet Union put an end to the possibility of confrontation between Russia and the West, and therefore to the need for a permanent American role in Europe, history suggests that conflicts in Europe involving Russia are possible even without Soviet communism. If the United States withdrew from Europe — if it adopted what some call a strategy of “offshore balancing” — this could in time increase the likelihood of conflict involving Russia and its near neighbors, which could in turn draw the United States back in under unfavorable circumstances.
It is also optimistic to imagine that a retrenchment of the American position in the Middle East and the assumption of a more passive, “offshore” role would lead to greater stability there. The vital interest the United States has in access to oil and the role it plays in keeping access open to other nations in Europe and Asia make it unlikely that American leaders could or would stand back and hope for the best while the powers in the region battle it out. Nor would a more “even-handed” policy toward Israel, which some see as the magic key to unlocking peace, stability, and comity in the Middle East, obviate the need to come to Israel ’s aid if its security became threatened. That commitment, paired with the American commitment to protect strategic oil supplies for most of the world, practically ensures a heavy American military presence in the region, both on the seas and on the ground.
The subtraction of American power from any region would not end conflict but would simply change the equation. In the Middle East, competition for influence among powers both inside and outside the region has raged for at least two centuries. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism doesn ’t change this. It only adds a new and more threatening dimension to the competition, which neither a sudden end to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians nor an immediate American withdrawal from Iraq would change. The alternative to American predominance in the region is not balance and peace. It is further competition. The region and the states within it remain relatively weak. A diminution of American influence would not be followed by a diminution of other external influences. One could expect deeper involvement by both China and Russia, if only to secure their interests. And one could also expect the more powerful states of the
region, particularly Iran, to expand and fill the vacuum. It is doubtful that any American administration would voluntarily take actions that could shift the balance of power in the Middle East further toward Russia, China, or Iran. The world hasn ’t changed that much. An American withdrawal from Iraq will not return things to “normal” or to a new kind of stability in the region. It will produce a new instability, one likely to draw the United States back in again.
The alternative to American regional predominance in the Middle East and elsewhere is not a new regional stability. In an era of burgeoning nationalism, the future is likely to be one of intensified competition among nations and nationalist movements. Difficult as it may be to extend American predominance into the future, no one should imagine that a reduction of American power or a retraction of American influence and global involvement will provide an easier path

Advantage 2: stability

Iraqi stablility is on the brink due to elections
Zalmay June 18, , , Ex-U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the UN and American counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), “Zalmay Khalilzad's take on Iraq – Part 1,” Iraq Oil Report, http://www.iraqoilreport.com/politics/oil-policy/zalmay-khalilzads-take-on-iraq-part-1-4630/

Ben Lando: What is your take on post-election, pre-government-formation Iraq? Zalmay Khalilzad: I think this election was a success. A positive step, a positive evolution in Iraqi politics. The level of violence was low. The level of participation was acceptable and the Iraqis voted in a less sectarian manner than in the previous election. The two leading parties, one is clearly a secular, non-sectarian, cross-sectarian party of Ayad Allawi that did very well. At the same time Prime Minister Maliki’s party (Dawlat Al-Qanoon) also presented itself as non-sectarian, cross-sectarian and it did very well as well. Of course still most Shia voted for Shia parties and most Sunnis voted for Iraqiya, but nevertheless it shows evolution in the attitudes of the people. BL: You were ambassador in Iraq during a quite violent time, when there was a lot of animosity between Shia and Sunni in Iraq. There’s a fear that this could return – maybe in different ways, maybe at a lower level – but that it could. Especially after the elections, if some parties are marginalized, do you think there is a risk of this violence returning? ZK: You cannot rule it out. It’s possible it could be reignited. It could happen in two ways. One is if there is contestation of the election results, and if takes a very long time to form a government and during this period violence increases. Or if terrorists are able to carry out operations, spectacular operations, that could once again increase insecurity. Also, violence could increase if a narrowly based and sectarian government is formed. I think one reason for the positive change was there was a greater sense of security and people were tired of the sectarian conflict that had taken place. But my sense is unlikely to go back to the bad old days of 2006 and 2007 after the attack on the Samarra mosque, because institutions are stronger and people are largely tired of sectarianism. It will take a lot to push them back.

Perception of U.S. commitment to on-time withdrawal key to post-election stability
Brian , Senior Fellow at American Progress, Katulis consultant to numerous U.S. government agencies, private corporations, and nongovernmental organizations on projects in more than two dozen countries, including Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, and Colombia., Peter, Research Associate at American Progress, “Iraqis Take Back Their Country,” 20 http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/03/iraq_elections.html]

Iraq’s election provides a critical test for the Obama administration’s new diplomacy centric policy in Iraq. Can the United States assist Iraq in moving forward constructively in its political transition despite the challenges of deep fragmentation within Iraqi politics? The outcome of the election will in part determine the kind of country Iraq will be for the foreseeable future—either contributing further to its fragmentation or allowing a national self-definition to coalesce and its politics to heal.

One of the worst mistakes the United States can make at this stage as Iraqis continue to reassert control over their own affairs is to get in the way of that process. Suggestions that the United States renege its commitment to redeploy its forces from Iraq, according to the schedule negotiated in the 2008 bilateral agreement signed with Iraq, are misguided. The Obama administration has begun to rebalance overall U.S. national security priorities in the Middle East and South Asia, sending more troops to Afghanistan as it draws down its forces in Iraq.

This redeployment strategy has risks, and the security environment in Iraq will remain uncertain, but the main objective driving U.S. policy should ultimately be to help Iraqis take control of their own affairs. Sticking to this schedule as closely as possible is best for broader U.S. national security interests unless there is a serious request by a unified Iraqi leadership to change the troop redeployment schedule. Even if Iraq’s new government would make such a request, the United States would have to evaluate it in the context of broader security objectives in the region and globally.

Maintaining the timeline is key to stop incentivizing insurgent violence and prevent a collapse of stability

President Obama should not bow to the Beltway voices urging him to keep U.S. troops longer in Iraq. At a speech at West Point on Saturday, Obama said: "We are poised to end our combat mission in Iraq this summer." His statement, which the cadets greeted with applause, is a reaffirmation of his pledge to have all U.S. combat forces leave Iraq by Aug. 31. Any remaining armed forces are required to leave Iraq by the end of 2011 in accordance with the binding bilateral Security Agreement, also referred to as the Status of Forces Agreement. But Washington pundits are still pushing Obama to delay or cancel the U.S. disengagement, calling on him to be "flexible" and take into consideration the recent spike of violence in Iraq. Hundreds of Iraqis have been killed and injured during the last few months in what seems to be an organized campaign to challenge U.S. plans. While most Iraqis would agree that Iraq is still broken, delaying or canceling the U.S. troop removal will definitely not be seen as "flexibility," but rather as a betrayal of promises. Iraqis believe that prolonging the military occupation will not fix what the occupation has damaged, and they don't think that extending the U.S. intervention will protect them from other interventions. The vast majority of Iraqis see the U.S. military presence as a part of the problem, not the solution. Linking the U.S. withdrawal to conditions on the ground creates an equation by which further deterioration in Iraq will automatically lead to prolonging the U.S. military presence. Some of the current Iraqi ruling parties want the U.S. occupation to continue because they have been benefiting from it. Some regional players, including the Iranian government, do not want an independent and strong Iraq to re-emerge. And other groups, including al-Qaeda, would gladly see the United States stuck in the current quagmire, losing its blood, treasure and reputation. Connecting the pullout to the prevalent situation would be an open invitation to those who seek an endless war to sabotage Iraq even further, and delaying it will send the wrong message to them. By contrast, adhering to the current time-based plan would pull the rug from under their feet and allow Iraqis to stabilize their nation, a process that may take many years but that cannot begin as long as Iraq's sovereignty is breached by foreign interventions. If the Obama administration reneges on its plans, it will effectively reward those responsible for the bloodshed and further embolden them. Such a decision would most likely have serious ramifications for the security of U.S. troops in Iraq, and will impede the security and political progress in the country. And delaying the U.S. pullout will not only harm the U.S. image around the world, which Obama has been trying hard to improve, but it will also be the final blow to U.S. credibility in Iraq. The mere promise of a complete withdrawal has boosted Iraqi domestic politics and enhanced the U.S. perception in the country. Unless Obama delivers on his promises, many of these achievements will be lost, and Iraq will be sent back to square one.

Iraq instability causes global nuclear war
, Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard & Staff Reporter for World Net Daily, 1-8- (Jerome, "War with Iran is Imminent, http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53669)

If a broader war breaks out in Iraq, Olmert will certainly face pressure to send the Israel military into the Gaza after Hamas and into Lebanon after Hezbollah. If that happens, it will only be a matter of time before Israel and the U.S. have no choice but to invade Syria. The Iraq war could quickly spin into a regional war, with Israel waiting on the sidelines ready to launch an air and missile strike on Iran that could include tactical nuclear weapons. With Russia ready to deliver the $1 billion TOR M-1 surface-to-air missile defense system to Iran, military leaders are unwilling to wait too long to attack Iran. Now that Russia and China have invited Iran to join their Shanghai Cooperation Pact, will Russia and China sit by idly should the U.S. look like we are winning a wider regional war in the Middle East? If we get more deeply involved in Iraq, China may have their moment to go after Taiwan once and for all. A broader regional war could easily lead into a third world war, much as World Wars I and II began.

Commitment to withdrawal will motivate the Middle East to promote and maintain a stable Iraq
Lawrence , Staff Writer for the American Conservative, 5/19/ (http://www.amconmag.com/article/2008/may/19/00015/)
The opponents of this senseless war seem to have far more confidence in the ability of the Iraqis to manage their affairs than do the advocates of remaining indefinitely. Moreover, once the U.S. sets a date for withdrawal, it will compel the region to claim Iraq, forcing neighboring countries to decide whether an Iraqi civil war, with all its consequences, is in their interests. If nothing else, a failed Iraq will force surrounding nations to confront another deluge of refugees on top of the 2.5 million who have already fled the country.
Faced with this reality, it is likely that the Saudis, Iranians, Syrians, Jordanians, Turks, and others will seek to mediate rather than further inflame Iraq’s internal conflicts. The U.S. can move this process along by launching a diplomatic surge with these neighbors as it begins to remove its troops.
Similarly, the claim that an American withdrawal from Iraq will undermine our credibility and moral standing has the reality exactly backward. A well-managed withdrawal, as opposed to remaining indefinitely, will enhance our credibility, especially if coupled with a renewed diplomatic effort. It will restore our global reputation and allow us to focus on real threats to our national interests.

Elections prove that Iraq’s democracy is steadily developing, but an extension of the U.S. commitment destroys public trust in the government, destroying Iraqi government legitimacy
Babak , 2/26/10, Newsweek’s Baghdad Bureau chief, “Rebirth of a Nation,” Newswek


The elections to be held in Iraq on March 7 feature 6,100 parliamentary candidates from all of the country's major sects and many different parties. They have wildly conflicting interests and ambitions. Yet in the past couple of years, these politicians have come to see themselves as part of the same club, where hardball political debate has supplanted civil war and legislation is hammered out, however slowly and painfully, through compromises—not dictatorial decrees or, for that matter, the executive fiats of U.S. occupiers. Although protected, encouraged, and sometimes tutored by Washington, Iraq's political class is now shaping its own system—what Gen. David Petraeus calls "Iraqracy." With luck, the politics will bolster the institutions through which true democracy thrives. Of course, as U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad Christopher Hill says, "the real test of a democracy is not so much the behavior of the winners; it will be the behavior of the losers." Even if the vote comes off relatively peacefully, the maneuvering to form a government could go on for weeks or months. Elections in December 2005 did not produce a prime minister and cabinet until May 2006. And this time around the wrangling will be set against the background of withdrawing American troops. Their numbers have already dropped from a high of 170,000 to fewer than 100,000, and by August there should be no more than 50,000 U.S. soldiers left in the country. If political infighting turns to street fighting, the Americans may not be there to intervene. Anxiety is high, not least in Washington, where Vice President Joe Biden now chairs a monthly cabinet-level meeting to monitor developments in Iraq. But a senior White House official says the group is now "cautiously optimistic" about developments there. "The big picture in Iraq is the emergence of politics," he notes. Indeed, what's most striking—and least commented upon—is that while Iraqi politicians have proved noisy, theatrical, inclined to storm off and push confrontations to the brink, in recent years they have always pulled back. Think about what's happened just in the last month. After a Shiite--dominated government committee banned several candidates accused of ties to the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein, there were fears that sectarian strife could pick up again. Saleh al-Mutlaq, who heads one of the largest Sunni parties, was disqualified. He says he tried complaining to the head of the committee, Ahmad Chalabi, and even met with the Iranian ambassador, thinking Tehran had had a hand in what he called these "dirty tricks"—but to no avail. Two weeks later Mutlaq nervously paced the garden of the massive Saddam--era Al-Rashid Hotel as he weighed his dwindling options. "I got a call from the American Embassy today," he said, grimly. "They said, 'Most of the doors are closed. There's nothing left for us to work.' " He shook his head. "The American position is very weak." But what's most interesting is what did not happen. There was no call for violence, and Mutlaq soon retracted his call for a boycott. The elections remain on track. Only about 150 candidates were ultimately crossed off the electoral lists. No red-faced Sunni politicians appeared on television ranting about a Shiite witch hunt or Kurdish conspiracy. In fact, other prominent Sunni politicians have been conspicuous for their low profile. Ali Hatem al--Suleiman, a tough, flamboyant Sunni sheik who heads the powerful Dulaim tribe in Anbar province, is running for Parliament on a list with Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. He scoffs at effete urban pols like Mutlaq: "They represent nothing. Did they join us in the fight against terrorists? We are tribes and have nothing to do with them." What outsiders tend to miss as they focus on the old rivalries among Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds is that sectarianism is giving way to other priorities. "The word 'compromise' in Arabic—mosawama—is a dirty word," says Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, who served for many years as Iraq's national--security adviser and is running for Parliament. "You don't compromise on your concept, your ideology, your religion—or if you do," he flicked his hand dismissively, "then you're a traitor." Rubaie leans in close to make his point. "But we learned this trick of compromise. So the Kurds are with the Shia on one piece of legislation. The Shia are with the Sunnis on another piece of legislation, and the Sunnis are with the Kurds on still another." The turnaround has been dramatic. "The political process is very combative," says a senior U.S. adviser to the Iraqi government who is not authorized to speak on the record. "They fight—but they get sufficient support to pass legislation." Some very important bills have stalled, most notably the one that's meant to decide how the country's oil riches are divvied up. But as shouting replaces shooting, the Parliament managed to pass 50 bills in the last year alone, while vetoing only three. The new legislation included the 2010 budget and an amendment to the investment law, as well as a broad law, one of the most progressive in the region, defining the activities of nongovernmental organizations. The Iraqis have surprised even themselves with their passion for democratic processes. In 2005, after decades living in Saddam Hussein's totalitarian "republic of fear," they flooded to the polls as soon as they got the chance. Today Baghdad is papered over with campaign posters and the printing shops on Saadoun Street seem to be open 24 hours a day, cranking out more. Political cliques can no longer rely on voters to rubber-stamp lists of sectarian candidates. Those that seem to think they still might, like the Iranian-influenced Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, have seen their support wane dramatically. Provincial elections a year ago were dominated by issues like the need for electricity, jobs, clean water, clinics, and especially security. Maliki has developed a reputation for delivering some of that, and his candidates won majorities in nine of 18 provinces. They lead current polls as well. The word skeptics like to fall back on is "fragile." No one can say for sure whether the Iraqis' political experiment is

Commitment to Pullout is critical- delaying would undermine undermine the Iraqi governments legitimacy and stability.

William C. Martel, July 1, 2009, is an associate professor of international security studies at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.,USA Today, LexisNexis, Pull back, no matter what; Opposing view: Sticking to deadlines boosts U.S. credibility, may strengthen Iraq.
Iraqi officials greeted Tuesday's deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq's cities with great enthusiasm. For Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, expelling foreign occupiers was "a victory that should be celebrated in feasts and festivals." One Iraqi general, Karim Falhan, said the U.S. withdrawal "shows we can handle it now ourselves, we can take over." Despite optimism among Iraqi officials, signs of instability persist. In June alone, insurgent attacks killed more than 300 Iraqis. Nevertheless, there are several reasons why the United States should continue its stated policy of withdrawing combat forces from Iraq's urban areas, no matter what: *First, America's commitment is sacrosanct. When the U.S.-Iraq security agreement went into effect on Jan. 1, we agreed to withdraw combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns by Tuesday -- and withdraw all combat forces by the end of August 2010 and all U.S. forces by the end of 2011. States that renege on such public commitments devalue their very credibility. Washington cannot afford to give states the opportunity to believe our pledges do not bear close scrutiny. *Second, strictly adhering to withdrawal could strengthen Iraq by telling insurgents and Iran's leaders that Baghdad intends to defend itself against forces that seek to rip it apart. A crucial test of democracy is whether the state can and will defend itself. If Iraq cannot, then it is doomed to fail. Because failure is not an option for Iraqis, they must successfully manage the withdrawal of U.S. forces. *Third, withdrawal demonstrates the United States is confident that Iraq's government and army can succeed. Signaling Washington's doubts about Iraq's leadership under Prime Minister al-Maliki would instantly undermine Iraq's government.

Democracy Will Spillover in te Region, Especially to Non-Free/Oppressive States
Harvey , PoliSi Prof. at USC, Christina 20, “Democratic Dominoes Revisited : The Hazards of Governmental Transitions, 1974-1996” , Journal of Conflict Resolution, http://jcr.sagepub.com/content/47/4/490

The analyses in Starr (1991) covered a period that ended in 1987. Although a post–cold war context would argue for the increased impact of general systemic effects (which we do find with some qualifications), the post–cold war period also brought with it a substantial increase in the number of F countries in the system (from 57 in 1987 to 81 in 1996). The increased number of democracies in the system appears to have increased the impact of neighbor effects as well—with stronger results for the effects of BGTs and clear neighbor environment effects for PF states. The post-1989 period is also one of growing interdependence, led by technologically based factors (see Rosenau 1990). This interdependence is reflected in systemic patterns of adaptive innovation, emulation, and expanded communication, which include the diffusion of governmental forms, especially the diffusion of democracy. These systemic effects promoting the diffusion of democracy are bolstered by local context factors—border effects and the nature of a state’s neighborhood. If students of democracy—whether in international or comparative politics—are essentially correct in regard to theoretical arguments about democratic norms, procedures, and transparency, then greater numbers of democracies should not only reflect higher levels of interdependence but also generate even higher levels of interdependence. Such a feedback loop would have been anticipated by Karl Deutsch’s vision of the process by which security communities are established. This is heartening news indeed. But Deutsch’s model of integration also alerts us to the constant possibility of disintegration. This is the cautionary lesson we must never forget.

Democratic governance is key to avert extinction – prevents terrorism, genocide, and environmental destruction

[Larry Diamond, a professor, lecturer, adviser, and author on foreign policy, foreign aid, and democracy.
“Promoting Democracy in the 1990s: Actors and instruments, issues and imperatives : a report to the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict”, December 1995, http://wwics.si.edu/subsites/ccpdc/pubs/di/di.htm]

This hardly exhausts the lists of threats to our security and well-being in the coming years and decades. In the former Yugoslavia nationalist aggression tears at the stability of Europe and could easily spread. The flow of illegal drugs intensifies through increasingly powerful international crime syndicates that have made common cause with authoritarian regimes and have utterly corrupted the institutions of tenuous, democratic ones. Nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons continue to proliferate. The very source of life on Earth, the global ecosystem, appears increasingly endangered. Most of these new and unconventional threats to security are associated with or aggravated by the weakness or absence of democracy, with its provisions for legality, accountability, popular sovereignty, and openness.

The experience of this century offers important lessons. Countries that govern themselves in a truly democratic fashion do not go to war with one another. They do not aggress against their neighbors to aggrandize themselves or glorify their leaders. Democratic governments do not ethnically "cleanse" their own populations, and they are much less likely to face ethnic insurgency. Democracies do not sponsor terrorism against one another. They do not build weapons of mass destruction to use on or to threaten one another. Democratic countries form more reliable, open, and enduring trading partnerships. In the long run they offer better and more stable climates for investment. They are more environmentally responsible because they must answer to their own citizens, who organize to protest the destruction of their environments. They are better bets to honor international treaties since they value legal obligations and because their openness makes it much more difficult to breach agreements in secret. Precisely because, within their own borders, they respect competition, civil liberties, property rights, and the rule of law, democracies are the only reliable foundation on which a new world order of international security and prosperity can be built.

Democracy is the only alternative for a government in Iraq- other alternatives result in instability
Daniel L. , Assistant professor in the Security Studies Program, Georgetown University, Senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution Kenneth M. , Director of research, Saban Center, Summer 20, Washington Quarterly Volume, Issue 3 Summer 2003, pages 117 - 136
Perhaps the most compelling reason to invest in building democracy in a post-Saddam Iraq is that the alternatives are far worse. Those who oppose such an effort have offered two alternatives: an oligarchy that incorporates Iraq's leading communities or a new, gentler dictatorship. Although not pleasant, skeptics of democracy argue that the United States must be "real- istic" and recognize that only these options would avoid chaos and ensure Iraq's stability. That either of these approaches could offer a stable and de- sirable alternative to the lengthy process of building democracy from the bottom up, however, is highly doubtful. One of the most commonly suggested forms for a post-Saddam Iraqi govern- ment would be one roughly similar to the new Karzai regime in Afghanistan. A consociational oligarchy would theoretically bring together leading figures from all of Iraq's major ethnic, religious, tribal, geographic, and functional groupings in a kind of national unity government. Such a regime might not be pluralistic in a strict sense; but by including members from all strata of Iraqi society, it would at least represent its key elements, and the various members could be expected to protect the most basic interests of their co- religionists and ethnic kin. Whether or not these groups truly represented the interests and aspirations of the Iraqi people would be largely irrelevant. Advo- cates of a consociational oligarchy in Iraq maintain that, with the demise of Saddam's regime, tribal chieftains and religious lead- ers can be expected to emerge as the only forces left in Iraq with some degree of power and would therefore be best able to preserve stability. A consociational oligarchy would be dif- ficult to establish for the simple reason that Iraq currently lacks potential oligarchs. Before Saddam took power, Iraq had numerous tribal, religious, military, municipal, and merchant leaders of sufficient stature to exercise considerable independent power. "Had" is the key word. Because Saddam ruthlessly eliminated any leaders in the country with the potential to rival himself, strong local leaders are lacking. Those who remain in the armed forces, in the Sunni tribes, and among some of the Shi'ite militias and reli- gious figures are political pygmies, lacking anything resembling the kind of independent power needed to dominate the country. The armed forces, par- ticularly the Republican Guard, had the power to rule the country, but they have been decimated and fragmented by the U.S. military offensive. Meanwhile, 75 percent of the population is urban, and even those city- dwellers who retain some links to their tribes reportedly do not want to be represented by unsophisticated, rural shaykhs who know nothing about life in Iraq's cities. Nor do these mostly secular Iraqis want to be represented by clerics whose goals might be very different from their own. So, who would represent the urban lower and middle classes that constitute the bulk of Iraq's population? Not the former magistrates of Iraq's cities—these are all appointees of Saddam's regime who owed their positions to their loyalty and service to him. In short, without a democratic process that would allow new leaders to emerge from the greater Iraqi population, the vast majority of Ira- qis would be left without a voice. By failing to include so much of Iraq's populace, attempts at a consocia- tional oligarchy will only foster the potential for instability down the road. Although the current Kurdish leaders could represent their population well because they have led them for years and are widely—though not univer- sally—accepted, they would be the exception. The few members of the Shi'ite clergy who have survived Saddam's purges could represent Shi'ites who favor an Islamic form of government, but they reportedly constitute less than 15 percent of the Shi'ite population in Iraq. Shi'ite shaykhs could rep- resent their small tribal constituencies, just as Sunni shaykhs could repre- sent their followers; but tribal Iraqis—both Sunni and Shi'a—now comprise just a small fraction of the population, prob- ably less than 15 percent. A n oligarchic ap- proach thus risks almost immediate chaos by increasing the chances that a form of warlordism would develop in which local leaders might be strong enough to resist any weak central government that would surely emerge with such an approach, as was the case in Afghanistan, but not strong enough to hold the country together. To the extent that various groups and their warlords did cooperate in a new political structure created by the United States before coalition troops departed, they likely would do so only tempo- rarily to prevent their rivals from gaining control of the central government, to try to gain control of the central government themselves, and to secure as much of the country's resources for themselves as possible. Moreover, this approach would inevitably include the cleansing of other tribal, ethnic, and religious groups as warlords attempted to consolidate control of their terri- tory. Meanwhile, in the Shi'ite south, with no strong central government imposing order, the Shi'a would likely vent their pent-up anger over eight decades of Sunni repression with reprisal killings against Sunnis associated with the past regime. Imagining a consociational oligarchy that fostered sta- bility, let alone good government, in Iraq is difficult. A far simpler alternative to democracy would be merely to install a new dic- tator to take Saddam's place. In effect, this would entail the United States acquiescing in the establishment of just one more Arab autocracy that, hopefully, would be no more troubling than that of Hosni Mubarak's Egypt. In addition to the moral burden of forcing long-suffering Iraqis to again endure dictatorship, this hard-line approach is not practical because the power brokers left standing after Saddam's fall are simply too weak to take or hold power forcibly themselves without constant and heavy-handed U.S.in- terference. Lacking Saddam's military power, any who try will provoke civil war when they attack but be unable to defeat the military forces of their do- mestic rivals. To make matters worse, each faction would probably appeal to foreign countries such as Iran or Syria to help defend themselves and gain control over the country. Because a U.S.-anointed successor to Saddam would find holding power difficult without outside support, the most likely outcome of this approach would be a revolving-door dictatorship in which one weak autocrat is over- thrown by the next, who then is himself too weak to hang on. Indeed, the only way that another dictator would have a chance of maintaining power would be to become a new version of Saddam himself—replicating his predecessor's brutal tyranny and even possibly resurrecting the development of weapons of mass destruction, flouting UN resolutions, supporting terror- ism, and attacking neighboring countries, none of which would enhance the stability of the region or advance U.S. interests. At best, a new dictatorship would leave Iraq no better off than other re- gional autocracies, but this too would be a dangerous result. Under such a dictatorship, Iraq might—as Saudi Arabia and Egypt have—become a breeding ground for anti-U.S. Islamic radicals or might slide into instability, even revolution. Setting post-Saddam Iraq on this path would be folly. Sad- dling another strategically important Middle Eastern state with all of the same problems as Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the others is not an out- come that the United States should seek.