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.