The Realist Prism: If Iraq is New Lebanon, Will U.S. Play Syria?

By Nikolas Gvosdev, on , Column

This week, President Barack Obama reaffirmed U.S. plans to end its combat mission in Iraq at the end of August, and to pull out the 50,000 troops that will remain past that date in a supporting, advisory role by the end of 2011. The president emphatically stated that "we will maintain a transitional force until we remove all our troops from Iraq by the end of next year."

It's not unreasonable to think of Iraq as the new Lebanon -- a fractious and not-so-united nation-state unable to form and sustain coherent governments, and still tottering near the precipice of a renewed civil war. If so, has the United States become its Syria? Put differently, the United States may no longer be willing to engage in open combat in Iraq, but it may have to maintain a military presence in Mesopotamia far beyond any 2011 departure date, in order to provide a certain degree of political stability in the country. ...

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