Still, it’s difficult to believe any administration can allow the fall of Iraq to happen. America would be leaving a nation with an army that can’t defend itself from nomadic terror groups much less powerful neighbors. If the United States doesn’t stop the ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ (and, incidentally, Islamists should really find a name that’s a little less derivative), we would be allowing a budding terror state to emerge in Iraq. And in some ways it was our intervention, coupled with the inability of Iraqis to form a cohesive nation, that helped created the vacuum and political environment that allows militant army (one that Ayman al Zawahiri believes is too uncompromising) to stake out an Islamic state which including now Iraq’s largest oil refinery. This ending would, to say the least, make a decade 0f sacrifice appear counterproductive.
Doing nothing is another choice. This probably means the Sunni-Shia split will continue to descend into violence, radicalism will proliferate, and destabilize the region. Thousands of civilians will, doubtlessly, perish.
Some will, no doubt, argue that doing nothing (and we might very well be doing something soon) means that more than 4,400 U.S. troops and over $700 billion had been wasted in a war that ended but was not won. Perhaps. But a more important matter is this: would the death of another 4,000, or 400, or four, bring about a preferable outcome or a set of conditions that allow the United States to convincingly declare victory?