Reflections on Redeployment from Iraq


Richard W. Crockett



OK, “redeployment” is the anti-war spin the same way “cut-and-run” is the pro-war spin.  But there could be good case for redeployment.  At the first it could involve shifting our attention to Afghanistan by moving troops there and more properly targeting our efforts toward the resurgent Talibon and their Al-Queda allies.  Second it may provide an opportunity to interfere with heroin production as a side benefit.  And if you believe that military endeavors can provide solutions to political problems, it may reestablish and extend control of the Karzi regime in a country where we have some some success.  But there also could be a downside in Afghanistan.  Our presence could provide the polarity needed to attract more Muslim radicals to Afghanistan and siphon off whatever Al-Quaeda efforts are within the Iraq insurgency (that would be good) and move those efforts to Afghanistan (that would be bad).  So it may be that if pulling out of Iraq is chosen as a policy, it should not take the form of redeployment as just described.  But there could be other benefits to withdrawal from Iraq, if it is done “cleanly” and completely. 


Our absence from Iraq, it is argued by the pro-war crowd, will lead to a “bloodbath.”  Maybe, but a mindless bloodbath is going on now.  Consider the other implications of our absence from Iraq.  If we believe that our presence in Iraq is a deterrent to the sectarian civil war in Iraq, we might expect that civil war to escalate into intensified sectarian violence.  But consider this.  If that should be the case, Syria, which is mostly Sunni, but supporting Hezbolla against Israel in Lebanon, would find itself at odds with Iran, which is mostly Shiite and is the principal sponsor of Hezbollah.  Syria is on Iraq’s western border and Iran is on Iraq’s eastern border.  Syria is run by a quasi-secular, but tilting Sunni Bathist regime, like the old Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, and Iran is a Shiite, pseudo-democratic theocracy in which Muslim Shiite clerics have final sway. 


Now imagine that the sectarian war in Iraq and the fight for the control of Iraq by Sunni or Shiite sects poisons the apparent cooperation between Syria (Sunni) and Iran (Shiite) regarding the support of Hezbollah in Lebanon and toward Israel.  They would have their own tensions in pursuing their own interests in Iraq, which surely would serve as a distraction from Israel, and cooperation in Lebanon.  President Bush likes to say that if we are “defeated” in Iraq, the “terrorists” will follow us to our country.  Maybe, but I doubt it. The formulation is far too simple minded.   For if Muslim radicals are caught up in their own sectarian struggles in the region, where the stakes for them are highest, and where the vision of success for each is more proximate, they will have little time or resources available for overseas adventurism.  The solution to distracting the attention of the competing variants of Muslim radicalism from us and from others in the West may be in creating conditions which compels them to focus upon themselves, each other, and their own immediate interests. And this distraction could endure.  In the theory of political conflict issue displacement usually results in the complete eclipse of one dominant issue by another for a foreseeable future. The sectarian violence could completely displace the American intrusion as the burning issue of the day.  Let us arrange for “the chips to fall where they may” and “let the Devil take the hindmost.” America’s immediate national interest in Iraq may be in getting out.