Iraq is currently in the early stages of a negotiated end to an intense ethnosectarian war. As such, there are several contingencies in which recent, mostly positive trends in Iraq could be reversed, threatening U.S. national interests. This Center for Preventive Action Contingency Planning Memorandum by Stephen Biddle assesses four interrelated scenarios in Iraq that could derail the prospects for peace and stability in the short to medium term and posits concrete policy options to limit U.S. vulnerability to the possibility of such reversals.
CFR President Richard N. Haass, whose latest book explores President George W. Bush's "war of choice" in Iraq, says he is concerned that President Obama may be turning the Afghanistan war into a "war of choice" too.
Richard Haass' perceptive insider's account of the policymaking leading up to both Iraq wars -- one a "war of choice," the other a "war of necessity" -- holds key lessons for future U.S. leadership in the Middle East and beyond.
Charles Duelfer, a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, says the biggest failure in the run-up to the war was misreading Iraqis' intentions, a lesson to consider when dealing with other hard-to-gauge countries, like Iran.
Stephen Biddle, a senior defense and counterterrorism analyst, says that President Obama's schedule for reducing and then ending the U.S. deployment in Iraq "is a reasonable compromise between several conflicting demands."
As Washington ponders how long to stay in Iraq, it would do well to remember the limited impact of the United States' withdrawal from Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1970s, Lebanon in the 1980s, and Somalia in the 1990s.
Sam Parker, an expert on Iraq, says the initial results from the provincial elections indicate Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been strengthened and Sunnis in restive Mosul may play a more positive role now that they appear to have defeated Kurds at the polls.
The authors argue that the United States has responded inadequately to the rise of Chinese power and recommend placing less strategic emphasis on the goal of integrating China into the international system and more on balancing China's rise.
Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
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