In spite of the near peaceful conditions now, it seems there are still efforts among many Democrats as well as some factions in Iraq to remove all U.S. troops quickly. I think that scenario is risky and something that Iraq should consider carefully before pursuing as an option. Here’s why.
Iran is an unfriendly neighbor. Iran has shown they are very willing to meddle in the affairs of their neighbors as they are doing well beyond Iraq in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. Likewise, Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, already has long-range missiles, and is a destabilizing force in the region. That is a dangerous combination to have next door. Without a counter-balancing military force, it could be suicide for Iraq.
If the United States were to remove all combat forces who would be left to defend Iraq? Iraq has no air force to compete with Iran’s. Iraq has no heavy equipment or other weapons with which to repel foreign aggressors. In short, Iraq depends on the United States to keep Iran or any aggressor out of their borders.
Remember it wasn’t that many years ago that Iran and Iraq were at war. The 1980s saw massive casualties on both sides as these two regional powers battled it out. It was only with American help that Iraq was able to push Iran back and essentially end the war.
I’m guessing there are quite a few military personnel in Iran who dream of the day they can take revenge on Iraq. Without American forces, Iraq would be an easy target. If Iran is allowed to develop nuclear weapons, the picture is changed exponentially and gives Iraq almost no hope. Nuclear blackmail would be so easy for Iran to pull off.
So, with these things in mind, Iraq would be wise to consider the successes of Japan and Germany and welcome an American presence to manage their national security needs. From a purely self-interested point of view, Iraq would be wise to pursue agreements and offer incentives that keeps us there permanently. Without having to spend for national security, Japan and Germany were able to rapidly transition back into the role of economic superpowers. Iraq could do the same in short time. Why they don’t push for such agreements puzzles me.
Note – I’m not saying that long-term security agreements with Iraq would be in the best interests of the United States. I’m just arguing that Iraq (and the Democrats) should consider the risks of standing alone in a dangerous world before removing American forces.