Lessons from Iraq

Korb Testifies to House Appropriations Subcommittee

Korb outlines nine key lessons to help guide the U.S. at this strategic crossroad in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Numerous mistakes over the last four years have left us without good options for the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq. The Iraq Study Group aptly noted that the situation in Iraq is “grave and deteriorating,” and this finding was endorsed by the National Intelligence Estimate of February 2, 2007 which described in sober language a rapidly unraveling country in which security has worsened over the last four years.

No one can guarantee that any course of action in Iraq at this point will stop the sectarian warfare, the growing violence, or the ongoing slide toward chaos. But inaction is drift, and sticking with the “current strategy” is not an acceptable option.

Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Lawrence J. Korb will deliver this message to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations tomorrow as he testifies on the current state of Iraq and the best strategy for moving forward.

He will outline nine key lessons for the federal government to consider as it decides its path at the strategic crossroad it currently finds itself at:

1. The fundamental security challenge in Iraq is a violent struggle for power among empowered Shiites, embittered Sunnis, and secessionist Kurds.

2. The open-ended U.S. combat deployment fosters a culture of dependency in Iraq.

3. Iraq’s neighbors are already involved in Iraq and must be part of the solution.

4. The U.S. must deploy its full diplomatic weight to address the problems in Iraq and the Middle East.

5. Further U.S. military escalation in Iraq will not make Iraq more secure.

6. The U.S. military escalation in Iraq will undermine the fight against global terrorist networks.

7. Many of the proponents for the proposed U.S. military escalation of 21,500 troops got us into the Iraq quagmire.

8. The 110th Congress has a responsibility to the American people.

9. We must change course now.

The nine lessons point to the obvious—the best hope for stabilizing Iraq and improving our security is to strategically redeploy our military forces from Iraq and begin a diplomatic surge not a further military escalation as the president has proposed. Yet they are all points that will need careful consideration over the coming weeks.

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Lawrence J. Korb

Senior Fellow