Alex Massie

Iraqi Reality Check

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Right now, Afghanistan has become, if you will, the trendy war again. So much so, in fact, that it's now Iraq that threatens to be the "forgotten war". Some of this is obviously due to Barack Obama's promise to bring American troops home within 16 months and some of it because, frankly, Iraq has left everyone exhausted and keen to talk about, well, just about anything else. Here's a reality check from Thomas Ricks, however. His new book The Gamble looks like being a must-read:

The other thing that people don’t understand is that this war is far from over. It has changed several times, and it is changing again now, but it hasn’t ended. The surge succeeded militarily, but it failed politically, because it was supposed to create a “breathing space” in which the country’s fundamental problems could be addressed. None—not one—have been solved. Not the status of the disputed city of Kirkuk, or the power relationship between the country’s three major groups, or most importantly the manner in which oil revenue will be shared.

I think we are stuck in Iraq for many years to come. Gen. Odierno told me last November that he’d like to see at least 30,000 U.S. troops in Iraq in 2015, long after President Obama’s first term will have ended. What this bodes, I think, is that Obama’s war in Iraq may well be longer than Bush’s war there.

Perhaps Ricks is wrong, but what if he isn't?

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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