Iraq War Developments

Friday, Rasmussen released a poll with alarming numbers for President Bush’s policies.

Most Americans (55%) favor a firm timetable for withdrawing all U.S. troops from Iraq within a year. That figure includes 37% who favor an immediate withdrawal and 18% who want a timetable that will complete the withdrawal in a year. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of 1,000 adults found that just 33% believe U.S. combat troops should remain in Iraq “until our mission is accomplished.”

These results come at a time when just 33% believe the President’s call for a temporary troop “surge” will succeed. Just 37% of Americans believe that the U.S. and its allies are winning the War on Terror. Only 28% give the President good or excellent marks for handling the situation in Iraq.

While favoring a troop withdrawal now, most Americans don’t expect that to happen. However, 59% believe it is likely U.S. troops will leave Iraq during the first year of the new President’s term in office.

President Bush can take small comfort in these numbers, they’re about the same percentage of Americans that supported the Revolution in the beginning. However, if Bush wanted to raise those numbers, maybe he should define the mission in Iraq and tell us the definition of victory in Iraq. Americans will not send the military over in a faraway shithole in an undefined mission without a clear definition of victory to fight and die in a needless war.

The latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq came out also on Friday that further repudiates President Bush

Friday’s newly declassified portions of a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq concluded that Iraq’s security situation is likely to get worse over the next 18 months unless the slide toward sectarian polarization and a weakening government is halted. Security forces — particularly the police — will be “hard-pressed” to handle their new responsibilities because of divisions that are tearing apart Iraqi society, the assessment said.

Any further negative event such as the assassination of a religious leader could hasten deterioration, it said. “The challenges facing Iraqis are daunting.”

Furthermore, it illustrates the dangers of a rapid pullout of US forces from Iraq:

The spy agencies saved some of their most dire warnings for the consequences of a sudden U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Lawmakers are considering resolutions opposing Bush’s plan to send 21,500 additional troops to the region.

If there is a quick withdrawal, analysts said, Iraqi security forces will not be able to survive and neighboring countries may become increasingly involved in the conflict. Al-Qaida in Iraq would also attempt to use the Sunni-dominated Anbar province of western Iraq as a base for attacks inside and outside the country, the report said. And spiraling violence, especially in the northern Kurdish areas, could prompt Turkey to act militarily.

The purpose of the US mission in Iraq needs to be training and building the Iraqi security forces to secure their country. US troops should not be getting involved in Iraq’s little petty tribal war.

The role of Iran and Syria:

The intelligence estimate highlighted Iran’s role in providing weapons and Syria’s inadequate border security measures. But analysts concluded that these actions aren’t likely to be a major driver of Iraq’s violence, which will sustain itself even without outside influence.

In other words, not much of a role.

Finally, how could the violence be stopped:

The situation isn’t without hope, the estimate found. The analysts concluded that some positive developments could — analysts stressed “could” — help reverse current trends. They include broader acceptance of the Sunni minority in the central government and concessions on the part of Shiites and Kurds to make more room for Sunni participation.

Creating an oil trust would help. Also, reconcilation won’t happen unless the current Iraqi government is threatened with a pulling of US support if it does not meet certain benchmarks in political reconciliation and building security forces. However, the answer is not calling for an immediate withdrawal or trying to redeploy or retreat; neither is a “surge” of US forces the answer because this will only increase Iraqi dependence on the US.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at The Hayride.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.