Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

My guess on events in Iraq: We are about to see the Great Gamble of 2012

The United States is waiting to be invited to keep a relatively small troop presence in Iraq past the end of this year. But extending such an invitation is politically difficult for the government of Iraq to do. My guess: U.S. forces actually will leave. The U.S. government then will wait for an invitation to ...

ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images
ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images
ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images

The United States is waiting to be invited to keep a relatively small troop presence in Iraq past the end of this year. But extending such an invitation is politically difficult for the government of Iraq to do.

My guess: U.S. forces actually will leave. The U.S. government then will wait for an invitation to come back. As former Army chief of staff George Casey once put it, "It's almost, we have to leave to get invited back." But what if it the invite doesn't come, or, what if it does, and the U.S. Congress balks? Keep in mind that 2012 is an election year for both the House of Representatives and the president. If we fall back into a recession, continued war spending is going to become extremely unpopular.  

Juan Cole captures American sentiment well: "Younger Americans cannot remember when the US was not at war. Could we be seeing the glimmerings of a time, not long into the future, when no US soldiers will be fighting and dying anywhere on the globe?"

The United States is waiting to be invited to keep a relatively small troop presence in Iraq past the end of this year. But extending such an invitation is politically difficult for the government of Iraq to do.

My guess: U.S. forces actually will leave. The U.S. government then will wait for an invitation to come back. As former Army chief of staff George Casey once put it, "It’s almost, we have to leave to get invited back." But what if it the invite doesn’t come, or, what if it does, and the U.S. Congress balks? Keep in mind that 2012 is an election year for both the House of Representatives and the president. If we fall back into a recession, continued war spending is going to become extremely unpopular.  

Juan Cole captures American sentiment well: "Younger Americans cannot remember when the US was not at war. Could we be seeing the glimmerings of a time, not long into the future, when no US soldiers will be fighting and dying anywhere on the globe?"

Meanwhile, with the murder of the top Iraqi de-Baathification official, I think we are seeing the future of Iraq taking shape.

Feeling lucky? Well, are you?

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
Tag: Iraq

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