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CNN’s Ware: Long-Term U.S. Presence In Iraq ‘Could Actually Ferment Further Resentment Towards’ The U.S.

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"CNN’s Ware: Long-Term U.S. Presence In Iraq ‘Could Actually Ferment Further Resentment Towards’ The U.S."

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In a speech last week at George Washington University, former Bush adviser Karl Rove asserted that a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq would positively provide “the projection of American power to maintain stability in a dangerous and difficult part of the world.” In a Washington Post op-ed on the same day, columnist Charles Krauthammer echoed Rove’s point, claiming that “maintaining a U.S. military presence in Iraq would provide regional stability.”

But CNN reporter Michael Ware, who has reported from Iraq since before the U.S. invasion in 2003, disagrees. In an interview yesterday, Ware told ThinkProgress that “there will be very much mixed reaction in Iraq” to a long-term troop presence, but he added, “what’s the point and will it be worth it?’

“A limited American capability” stationed in the country would be exposed, said Ware, “to a whole host of dangers” and “could actually ferment further resentment towards the United States”:

A deeper question, however, is: what would be the point? Why keep say, just one division of combat troops in Iraq? You think that would intimidate Iran? Do you think that would prevent Syria from manipulating Iraqi affairs when 160,000 American troops aren’t able to stop that kind of interference? [...] The fact that just such a limited American capability in that country, being stationed there, could actually ferment further resentment towards the United States because such a limited force structure would not be able to actually do anything if a civil war broke out.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/04/WareLongTermPresence.320.240.flv]

Ware added that while “many people could live with” a troop presence “if America stays out of Iraqis business, others will resent their mere presence for the blame that they cast upon America.”

In the same interview, Ware also dispelled the notion — promulgated by AEI’s Frederick Kagan — that sectarian cleansing in Baghdad is a “myth“:

If anyone is telling you that the cleansing of Baghdad has not contributed to the fall in violence, then they either simply do not understand Baghdad or they are lying to you.

For more of Ware’s comments about Iraq, visit the Wonk Room.

Transcript:

WARE: In terms of just hosting U.S. bases, America maintaining more or less a token presence or just a strategic presence. I mean, even if you have one or two divisions that remain in Iraq, they stay garrisoned in camps, in no way do they impact upon the political framework of Iraq or domestic affairs. Many people could live with that if America stays out of Iraqis business, others will resent their mere presence for the blame that they cast upon America, for the nightmare that they see that the United States has brought to their country. A deeper question, however, is: what would be the point? Why keep say, just one division of combat troops in Iraq? You think that would intimidate Iran? Do you think that would prevent Syria from manipulating Iraqi affairs when 160,000 American troops aren’t able to stop that kind of interference? So, it would be a token presence, obviously. What would be the message of that token? What would be the point of it? And don’t forget, that will expose whatever troops you have there to a whole host of dangers. They will be a sitting target. So that’s a decision that America must make in a very measured way. Even divorced from Iraqi reaction, you have to ask yourself: what’s the point and will it be worth it? But there will be very much mixed reaction in Iraq and the fact that just such a limited American capability in that country, being stationed there, could actually ferment further resentment towards the United States because such a limited force structure would not be able to actually do anything if a civil war broke out, if massacres were taking place, if the blood was literally rushing up against the razor wire of these American garrisons, they wouldn’t be able to prevent it. They wouldn’t be able to go outside. They wouldn’t have the power and the force to actually affect change. So, at the only time when people may turn to them for help, these troops would be unable to deliver on that hope. So, a permanent presence for American troops is something that must be weighed very carefully.

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