think tank urges retreat
By Dave Clark
An independent think tank warned that the situation in
Iraq was beyond repair and urged that US forces should
be pulled out whatever the result of the current "surge"
of troops into Baghdad.
02/09/07 "AFP" -- --
A report from Washington's Council on
Foreign Relations (Full
report: PDF ) concluded that a US military victory
was impossible in Iraq, where "amateurish" post-invasion
rule by American officials had seen Iraq collapse into
The respected institute's stark assessment comes at a
time of collapsing public support for the war in the
United States and mounting opposition to President
George W. Bush's strategy within Congress.
"The United States has already achieved all that it is
likely to achieve in Iraq... Staying in Iraq can only
drive up the price of those gains in blood, treasure and
strategic position," wrote Steven Simon, author of the
"The time has come to acknowledge that the United States
must fundamentally recast its commitment to Iraq. It
must do so without any illusions that there are
unexplored or magic fixes, whether diplomatic or
military," he warned.
"Some disasters are irretrievable," he continued,
calling for troops to be pulled out by the end of 2008.
Simon, in a paper entitled "After the Surge: The Case
for US Military Disengagement from Iraq," said troop
levels are still too low to quell the fighting but more
reinforcements would make little difference in any case.
The US invasion "plunged the country into a civil war
that brought about the deaths of tens of thousands of
Iraqi civilians, wrecked the country's already
debilitated infrastructure, and spurred violent
"The crisis has now moved beyond the capacity of
Washington to control on its own... The United States
lacks the military resources and the domestic and
international political support to master the
situation," Simon warned.
Bush and his commanders have pinned the success of his
Iraq strategy on sending 21,500 additional US troops to
secure Baghdad and allow the embattled Iraqi government
and US reconstruction teams to rebuild the country.
But Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's so-called unity
government is wracked by sectarian rivalry and much of
the country is prey to illegal Shiite militias and
roving bands of Sunni anti-US insurgents.
In addition, Simon warns, Washington has been unable to
contribute enough personnel for a sustained
counterinsurgency and nation building effort.
He notes that the US civilian agencies have been only
able to find 116 staff to fill a planned 167 positions
on "provincial reconstruction teams," compared to the
1,700 who were thrown into a similar failed effort in
And even accounting for the extra troops in the ongoing
"surge," the new US commander in Iraq, Lieutenant
General David Petraeus, has only half the number of
soldiers he would need to follow his own
In addition to destroying the Iraqi state and plunging
the country into crisis, the US invasion has
strengthened the hand of Washington's enemies in Iran
and tied down troops that could be more usefully used
"By siphoning resources and political attention away
from Afghanistan, a continuing military commitment to
Iraq may lead to US losses in southwest Asia," Simon
warned starkly of NATO's ongoing operation against the
American failures since the March 2003 invasion had cost
Bush public support at home, making military
disengagement inevitable, the report warns.
"It is now just a matter of time," Simon wrote. "Better
to withdraw as a coherent and somewhat volitional act
than withdraw later in hectic response to public
opposition to the war in the United States."
Full report: [PDF]
Copyright © 2007 Agence France Presse.