Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The costs of leaving Iraq

I mentioned this on NPR’s “Morning Edition” yesterday, but I am still turning it over in my head. When I was on book tour in California last week, some people attending one of my signings were arguing for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq and said that they understood that a genocidal civil war might break ...

588029_090305_84721321_REZ2.jpg
588029_090305_84721321_REZ2.jpg

I mentioned this on NPR's "Morning Edition" yesterday, but I am still turning it over in my head.

When I was on book tour in California last week, some people attending one of my signings were arguing for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq and said that they understood that a genocidal civil war might break out there -- but didn't care. Do a lot of Americans see it that way? What are you hearing?

I mentioned this on NPR’s “Morning Edition” yesterday, but I am still turning it over in my head.

When I was on book tour in California last week, some people attending one of my signings were arguing for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq and said that they understood that a genocidal civil war might break out there — but didn’t care. Do a lot of Americans see it that way? What are you hearing?

Meanwhile, Sen. James Webb (D-A Country Such as This) notes with alarm in an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that the Status of Forces Agreement between the U.S. and Iraq has “plenty of loose language in there that would allow our troops to stay longer.” He dislikes that idea. I think it is going to happen and think, on balance, that it is better than leaving. But I don’t much like either option.

But what happens when the Americans pull out? Here’s an interesting quote from today’s Stars & Stripes:

Maybe they try to punish anyone who says bad things about the [election] results. That’s why we need the Americans. We need people to protect us from them.”

That’s Rahim Khalaf Mohammed al-Aethowi, vice president of the North Ramadi City Council, talking about the Iraqi police in the city.

NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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