Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Consequences of Withdrawal

Folks are free to advocate pulling out of Iraq, but they need to understand the consequences, which, according to Robert Kaplan, include the reversal of the progress we've made in the greater Middle East:

If the United States were to pull out of Iraq you would have a real bloodbath, plus a reversal in a lot of the positive trends towards liberalization we've seen in Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, Dubai, and many others. I mention all these places individually because they're not getting enough coverage in the media. Even Syria -- despite all the trouble we're having -- is a much less autocratic place now than it was four years ago. None of this would have been possible if the United States had cut and run Mogadishu-style once things got rough in Iraq.

. . . Three weeks after the first successful Iraqi election, Lebanon's Walid Jumblatt stunned the world by saying "this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq."

But because we've had such a surge of democratization in the Arab world in such a narrow frame of time, we're going to have to stick it out in order for the progress to hold. If we don't stick it out in Iraq, Lebanese democracy is just ephemeral; the Syrians will ultimately reconstitute Lebanon in their own totalitarian image. If we don't stick it out in Iraq, Libya will go backward after going forward, and in Egypt Mubarak will be succeeded by another Brezhnev-type leader. And on and on.

The whole interview is insightful.


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