The dozens of coordinated attacks across Iraq this week that killed nearly 100 people — widely believed to be the work of al Qaeda in Iraq — reportedly has stoked “fears that the country’s security forces won’t be able to control al Qaida-allied extremists after the scheduled U.S. military withdrawal at year’s end.” Indeed, the news has encouraged those on the right who say the United States needs to stay in Iraq past 2011. War hawk Max Boot wrote yesterday:
It is becoming tiresome to keep pointing to fresh atrocities in Iraq as a reason why U.S. troops cannot afford to leave at the end of this year.
However, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, sees it differently. He told the USA Today editorial board yesterday that despite the attacks, the Iraqi security forces are capable of handing security after U.S. forces withdraw:
BUCHANAN: The Iraqis have had the lead for internal security since last summer and have been doing an incredible job by literally any measure you want to use. … The Iraqi security forces are doing a good job at maintaining the lead of security. … I think the Iraqi government understands the threat that both al-Qaida poses and that these militant groups pose and has the ability to defeat them.
Buchanan added that the Iraqis’ discussions about whether to ask the U.S. for a continued military presence beyond 2011 “have not yet matured to the point of negotiations,” but he added that “eventually our two countries will have that discussion and it could lead to something different than a complete withdrawal.” Watch clips from the interview:
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“I was recently asked, after a speech, if the decision to invade Iraq was a terrible blunder,” Boot wrote in the same column, “I replied it was too soon to tell.” Even decades from now, Iraq war cheerleaders like Boot will most likely argue “it’s too soon to tell” whether the whole Iraq experiment worked out liked they’d hoped. But as CAP’s Matt Duss noted yesterday, “As my colleagues and I wrote in our May 2010 report, The Iraq War Ledger, there is simply no conceivable calculus by which Operation Iraqi Freedom can be judged to have been a successful or worthwhile policy.”