Exiting Iraq: Why the U.S. Must End the Military Occupation and Renew the War against Al Qaeda : Report of a Special Task Force

Exiting Iraq: Why the U.S. Must End the Military Occupation and Renew the War against Al Qaeda : Report of a Special Task Force

Exiting Iraq: Why the U.S. Must End the Military Occupation and Renew the War against Al Qaeda : Report of a Special Task Force

Exiting Iraq: Why the U.S. Must End the Military Occupation and Renew the War against Al Qaeda : Report of a Special Task Force

Synopsis

With the continuing U.S. occupation of Iraq, a special task force of scholars and policy experts calls into question the Bush administration's intention to stay as long as necessary. In this joint statement, the members argue that the presence of troops in Iraq distracts attention from fighting Al Qaeda and emboldens a new class of terrorists to take up arms against the United States. The task force's findings are essential reading for anyone concerned with the ongoing conflict and the war on terrorism

Excerpt

Speculation on the prospects for success or failure, loosely defined, in postwar Iraq has become a growth industry. Many reports and studies were published in the months before the United States launched military operations to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Dozens more have been published in the months since Hussein's regime collapsed. Although the recommendations of those reports are as varied as the many authors who wrote them, nearly all emphasize the need to achieve political and economic stability in Iraq. Most recommend a long-term U.S. or international commitment to the country, or both. Many call on the United States to establish a democratic system of government there. a few place additional conditions on judging the ultimate success, or failure, of America's Iraqi intervention, from the guarantee of basic human rights for women and ethnic or religious minorities; to the provision of health care services to all Iraqis; to the mandate that all Iraqi children, girls as well as boys, be afforded educational opportunities.

Such recommendations are based on the presumption that the achievement of such goals in Iraq is essential to American interests— that they are, indeed, intrinsic American interests. the well-being of Iraqis, their access to education, and their legal status are presumed to be nearly synonymous with the safety and well-being of American citizens.

Much of this discussion, while well-intentioned, distracts us from what should be America's core policy objectives. the overwhelming focus on the fate of Saddam; on how to contain the Iraqi insurgency; on how to reconcile the competing aspirations of Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds within a democracy; and on how to provide power, water, and other basic services has relegated to the background a much more fundamental question: what are America's national security interests in Iraq?

In December 2003, I convened a task force of scholars and policy experts to examine the core question of U.S. strategic interests in . . .

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