CSIS report on US and Iraq

CSIS has released a new report you can view and download it here.

The report deals with the issue of how the US can make the best of the situation in Iraq, whether the country “goes bad” (civil war) or not.

From the Executive Summary:

This paper argues that US success in Iraq is too important for the US to withdraw in spite of the present odds and that it should “play the course” as long as it has a credible chance of success. It also argues that there are a series of steps that the US can take to improve the odds of success, many of which build on initiatives that the US already has underway.

These suggestions affect five separate areas of US effort:

  • Providing a clear statement of US intentions that will make it clear the US is seeking to create a viable and legitimate government in Iraq, and will not stay in Iraq once this occurs. This statement will address the major conspiracy theories that undermine US efforts, and be backed by tangible actions.
  • Stepping up aid efforts to develop effective governance, and placing a new emphasis on local as well as national governance.
  • Giving even higher priority and resources to the effort to develop effective Iraqi military and security forces.
  • Altering US methods of warfighting to strengthen the political content of US strategy and tactics.
  • Recasting the economic aid effort to focus on Iraqi internal stability during 2005-2006, and transferring responsibility for planning, management and execution to the Iraqi government, while phasing out US contracting efforts as soon as possible.

To paraphrase an old country and western song, the US needs to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, and know when to run. If the US is asked to leave by an Iraqi government, it must leave. The same is true if Iraqi efforts at governance decisively and/or if the US cannot create effective enough Iraqi security forces to largely replace US and coalition forces. Fighting a counterinsurgency campaign is one thing; the US must not stay if Iraq devolves into civil war.

Looks to be a very interesting and insightful report. Feel to read it and comment on it here.