turtlingThe prevailing argument against a near-term American withdrawal from Iraq is that, absent the stabilizing presence of the American troops that now stand between factions, the country will spiral out of control; the low-intensity civil war of the last two-plus years (which not everyone has acknowledged, yet) will become a high-intensity civil war, and possibly worse.
In a blog post today, former Senator Gary Hart makes explicit the American assumption that cuts down the "stabilizing presence" argument. If Iraq explodes into a high-intensity civil war, Hart warns, the U.S. could lose the substantial portion of its army that it has parked in that country. Since this loss would be a disaster for the United States, the first consideration of the American military in an Iraqi conflagration would be to protect American military assets:
If sectarian violence escalates further, US troops must be withdrawn from patrol and confined to their barracks and garrisons. Mass transport must be mustered for rapid withdrawal of those troops from volatile cities in the explosive central region of Iraq...But the first concern must be the safety of US forces...In greatest danger are the units in the Sunni central region cities. They are in real jeopardy if tens of thousands of angry Sunni and Shi'ite citizens, supported by their sectarian militias, surround and then overrun those units before they can be withdrawn. [Emphasis added.]In a major shooting war between Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites, my money says that the stabilizing force of the American military presence would be frantically pulled from danger and locked down behind a system of berms, walls, and gun towers. And the civil war would simply go on around them.