Argument: An early US withdrawal from Iraq would be generally disastrous

Issue Report: Withdrawing from Iraq

Supporting quotes

  • An April 2008 report by the Institute of Peace concluded that an early withdrawal would result in, “massive chaos and even genocide.”[1]
  • John McCain. March, 2008. – “One of the debates of this election will be if the American people want a candidate who wants to get out [of Iraq] as quickly as possible. If we do that then al-Qa’eda wins, we have chaos and genocide throughout the region and they will follow us home. That’s been my position – forever.”[2]
Under the impact of American abdication, Lebanon may slip into domination by Iran’s ally, Hezbollah; a Syria-Israel war or an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities may become more likely as Israel attempts to break the radical encirclement; Turkey and Iran will probably squeeze Kurdish autonomy; and the Taleban in Afghanistan will gain new impetus. Countries where the radical threat is as yet incipient, as India, will face a mounting domestic challenge. Pakistan, in the process of a delicate political transformation, will encounter more radical pressures and may even turn into a radical challenge itself.
That is what is meant by “precipitate withdrawal — a withdrawal in which the US loses the ability to shape events, either within Iraq, on the anti-jihadist battlefield or in the world at large.”
  • Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr. “How to Win in Iraq”. Foreign Affairs. September/October, 2005 – “The administration’s critics, meanwhile, have offered as their alternative ‘strategy’ an accelerated timetable for withdrawal. They see Iraq as another Vietnam and advocate a similar solution: pulling out U.S. troops and hoping for the best. The costs of such premature disengagement would likely be calamitous. The insurgency could morph into a bloody civil war, with the significant involvement of both Syria and Iran. Radical Islamists would see the U.S. departure as a victory, and the ensuing chaos would drive up oil prices.”
Sectarian violence could erupt on a scale never seen before in Iraq if coalition troops leave before Iraq’s security forces are ready. Supporters of al Qaeda could develop an international hub of terror from which to threaten the West. And the likely civil war could draw countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran into a broader conflict.”[…]
  • Mortimer B. Zuckerman. “Seeing the Job Through”. U.S. News and World Report. December, 4th, 2005 – “The consequences of leaving Iraq prematurely could be a radical Islamic regime funded with oil revenues, an unfettered platform for terrorist attacks, destabilizing the Middle East and threatening America itself. Know the enemy. Zarqawi has a long history of terrorist activities. He organized the assassination of Lawrence Foley, a U.S. Agency for International Development official, in Amman in 2002, he planned terrorist attacks in Germany a year later, and he plotted last year to attack Jordan’s intelligence service and prime minister’s office, as well as the U.S. and Israeli embassies there. Three al Qaeda operators crossed from Iraq into Jordan, smuggling seven Katyusha missiles in the underbelly of an aging Mercedes with a hidden second gas tank. Moreover, Jordanians discovered a warehouse of chemical substances and 20 tons of explosives. The 71 types of chemical substances included nerve gas and substances that cause third-degree burns and asphyxiation. Ultimately, the terrorists were diverted, but this is the kind of mayhem we can expect if al Qaeda is permitted to establish paramountcy in Iraq. This year, of course, it was Zarqawi who masterminded the suicide attacks on the three tourist hotels in Amman in which dozens died.”

Supporting videos

“Christopher Hitchens – Consequences of Withdrawal from Iraq”[3]