One thing I worry about on the Iraq issue is that the anti-war side has tended to be fighting with one hand tied behind our back. People mostly try to be relatively honest about the fact that leaving Iraq is not likely to produce a particularly happy outcome, people who nominally agree with us about the policy write columns saying we’re still being too cozy, and meanwhile on the other side people just make up all kinds of crazy lies. It’s a difficult way to win an argument. So I’m glad Robert Dreyfuss went and wrote up (via Kevin Drum) the optimist’s guide to leaving Iraq since, as he says, “If it was foolish to accept the best-case assumptions that led us to invade Iraq, it’s also foolish not to question the worst-case assumptions that undergird arguments for staying.”
Fundamentally, I don’t think anyone really does or can know what will happen when we leave. I personally tend to be a pessimist as a general matter and would put my bet on a fairly poor outcome if you made me. But things also could go not so bad. In particularly, the widely held view that you’d see a Saudi Arabia versus Iran proxy war inside Iraq strikes me as unsupported. Just over the past few months those two countries have been working together to try to prevent violence and disorder in Lebanon and there’s no particular reason to think they couldn’t do the same in Iraq.