Don’t leave Iraq, Mr. President

Thus, the consequence of an Obama policy that continues the withdrawal of American forces down to zero in Iraq would unquestionably strengthen Iran, both inside Iraq among its Shiite allies, and also in the broader Middle East. Combined with Obama’s unmodified pledge to begin withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan in mid-2011, the American retreat from Iran’s borders would be in full swing. Arab states around the Gulf are already concluding that American influence is fading, and they are seeking accommodations with Iran for their own safety’s sake.

Obama’s policy, and the one he is most likely to defend Tuesday night—withdrawing from Iraq—is exactly what the critics of Bush’s invasion of Iraq have long waited to hear. But it will achieve precisely the opposite of what they say they wanted—stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions—and will leave Iran the increasingly dominant player in an ever-more-dangerous region.

This is truly a lose-lose policy for the United States. But I will be surprised if that’s not exactly what we hear from President Obama.