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WashPost: Iraq: Hold and Build, or Lose

Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy, the Center for International and Strategic Studies in Washington
May 12, 2009

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Anthony H. Cordesman argues in a Washington Post op-ed that the United States runs the risk of making Iraq "the forgotten war," which could have dire consequences for the country's post-withdrawal prospects for peace.

Excerpt: Despite the violence of the past few weeks, it is Iraq that now risks becoming the "forgotten war." Iraq has become both a perceived "victory" and a war that many Americans and members of Congress would like to forget. As a result, we may rush toward the "exit" without a strategy -- and lose both the ongoing war and the peace that could follow.

It is all too easy to forget that we "won" in Vietnam. We left having defeated the Viet Cong, having forced North Vietnam to halt its offensives -- and having gotten a Nobel Prize for the settlement. We created something approaching a functioning democracy, a reasonable level of development, and Vietnamese forces that seemed able to defend both without our support. It only took a few years, however, to show how costly an exit without a strategy can be.

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