Members of the Iraq Study Group have released a new briefing as the United States Institute of Peace titled “Iraq After the Surge: Options and Questions”. The report first identifies “five paramount interests that U.S. policy in Iraq should aim to serve:”
- Prevent Iraq from becoming a haven or platform for international terrorists
- Restore U.S. credibility, prestige and capacity to act worldwide
- Improve regional stability
- Limit and redirect Iranian influence
- Maintain an independent Iraq as a single state
They then go on to talk about the three options the U.S. has in Iraq; full and unconditional commitment, reduced, conditional commitment, and unconditional, near-total reduction of U.S. military commitment. Below is a summary of their discussion of the three options
Full and unconditional commitment:
- Current policy
- Has brought increased security
- National reconciliation through political means has fallen short
This policy has three shortcomings:
- Gains may be tenuous
- No political solution
- The cost is high
Reduced, Conditional Commitment
- Summary: Future U.S. support should be based upon the attainment of Iraqi political goals. To meet this Iraqis must set up oil revenue sharing, provincial elections to develop decentralized government, non-sectarian army.
- Iraqis fail to act, U.S should cut losses
Unconditional, Near-total Reduction of U.S. Military Commitment
- Summary: A full pull-out of U.S. troops with increased diplomatic efforts and political assistance for the Iraqi government. The continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq cannot produce an outcome worth the financial and human expenses. Also, U.S. is sacrificing interests elsewhere in the world.
- Timetable for withdrawal that has no ties to Iraqi political gains.
- Increased U.S. military presence in the Gulf region.
The report then goes on to list the positives and negatives of each option in regards to the five interests.
Full, Unconditional Commitment has positives in preventing terrorism, halting Iranian influence (slightly positive), and preserving a single state. It has negatives in restoring U.S.’ credibility and capacity to act elsewhere.
Reduced, Conditional Commitment has positives in preventing terrorism, restoring credibility (as long as executed correctly) and maintaining U.S. capacity. It has negatives in maintaining a single state, and slight negatives in regional stability and Iranian influence.
Unconditional, Near-Total Reduction of Military Commitment has mixed results for restoring credibility and freeing up capacity, regional stability, and maintaining a single state with negatives in combating terrorism and halting Iranian influence.
The report can be read here.