How you analyze an issue depends on the starting point. An op-ed in the Washington Post by leading neoconservatives Fred and Kimberly Kagan on the impending US departure from Iraq lays out five current “American core interests” in the region. They are: that Iraq should continue to be one unified state; that there should be no al-Qaeda on its soil; that Baghdad abides by its international responsibilities; that it should contain Iran; and that it should accept US “commitment” to the region.
Fred is the Director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute while Kimberly heads the Institute for the Study of War. The two Kagans, enthusiastic cheerleaders for the invasion of Iraq back in 2003, seem to have short memories. In 2003, Iraq was more unified and stable than it is today; there was no al-Qaeda presence; Saddam abided by a sanctions regime imposed by the UN; and Iraq was the principal Arab state restraining Iran. Then, as now, the US was clearly “committed” to the region through the presence of its armed forces and I would add parenthetically that Iraq in no way threatened the United States, or anyone else. It was precisely the US invasion and subsequent intervention in Iraqi affairs that dismantled the Iraqi nation state, introduced al-Qaeda to the country, wrecked the Iraqi economy, and brought into power a group of Shi’a leaders who are now much closer to Tehran than they are to Washington. Nice job Kagans and one has to wonder why you are still giving advice. I have heard that the Kagans have been hired as advisers to David Petraeus at CIA, so it is apparent that being wrong repeatedly has no effect on one’s employability.