Saturday, May 16, 2009
Preventing Iraq from Slipping Back into Sectarian Chaos
It is at least possible, if not likely, that different choices on two key 2003 U.S. decisions would have allowed the United States to withdraw most of its troops from Iraq well before the present date. The two decisions that are now widely understood to have been disastrous mistakes are the dissolution of the Iraqi Army and the decision to pursue harsh punitive actions against vast numbers of former Ba'ath party members beyond the leadership of Saddam's regime. Both decisions alienated Iraq's Sunni Arabs and opened the door for a strong al-Qaeda presence in Iraq. Despite the remonstrations of the former Chief Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), it is well understood that abolishing the Iraqi military rather than issuing a selective, voluntary recall was one of the worst mistakes of the war.