Al Qaeda and Iraq - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Al Qaeda and Iraq
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Al Qaeda expert Peter Bergen argues in today's New York Times that a U.S. pullout from Iraq would be exactly what Al Qaeda wants, because it would enable the terrorist group to establish a permanent base in Western Iraq so that it can regroup. It would also confirm bin Laden's view of America as a paper tiger, which traces back to Ronald Reagan's pullout from Lebanon in 1984 (in hindsight, probably the biggest mistake of his presidency) and Bill Clinton's pullout from Somalia in 1993. As far as Iraq is concerned, Bergen argues for abandoning our desire to create a democracy or halting civil war, and focus on making sure Al Qaeda doesn't gain control of Western Iraq.

Whatever one thinks of whether the War in Iraq is a good idea, it's difficult to understand how people would believe that a total U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would be a good thing. All of the problems that people cite for why Iraq is a disaster would be made much worse without the U.S. presence there. There is now a debate as to whether Iraq is just experiencing sectarian violence or a low-level civil war, but if the U.S. withdraws it will clearly lead to an all out civil war. Critics complain that the war enabled terrorist to gain control of large sections of Iraq, but as Bergen's piece makes clear, withdrawal would enable Al Qaeda to establish a permanent base there. Anti-war groups complain about regional stability, but if the U.S. withdraws you'd have Iran, Syria and Turkey fighting for control of different parts of Iraq. A U.S. withdrawal from Iraq will mean more violence and civilian casualties, not less.   

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