Responses to Barry Posen in Boston Review

The Boston Review’s new Democracy Forum now has responses to Barry Posen’s outline of an Exit Strategy from Iraq from Barbara Bodine, Jospeh Biden, and others, as well as a response to these by Posen.

Helena Cobban’s response:

Barry Posen is right to make the case for a substantial withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq (though I continue to argue for a withdrawal that, unlike his, is complete, speedy, and generous to Iraqis and other non-Americans financially and politically). He is right to diagnose the present situation as, essentially, one of a “stalemated counterinsurgency.” And, crucially, he is right to argue that the longer the administration delays making a public commitment to a substantial drawdown of troops, the greater the political and financial costs. Having said that, however, the course he advocates remains deeply unsatisfactory—even unrealistic. This is for two main reasons: first, Posen misreads key aspects of the situation inside Iraq, in particular the role that Iran already plays in its politics; second, he almost completely ignores broader trends in a global political system of which Iraq—both the country and the issue—is nowadays a part.