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Tuesday, 10th June 2008

Downsized U.S. Goals and Presence in Iraq

Downsized U.S. Goals and Presence in Iraq
Source: The Century Foundation

In a new report from The Century Foundation, former National Intelligence Council vice-chair Ellen Laipson argues that the United States needs to move quickly to reset its Iraq policy goals, arguing that U.S. strategic goals in the Middle East region require a change in Iraq policy regardless of how Iraq’s internal political scenario plays out.

“The time for social engineering is over,” Laipson writes in her report, America and the Emerging Iraqi Reality: New Goals, No Illusions, which The Century Foundation released on Monday, June 9. “Events in Iraq will be determined by powerful currents within Iraqi society and politics that are less and less susceptible to outside manipulation or influence.”

According to Laipson’s report, elections in both Iraq and the United States over the next eighteen months could significantly change the landscape for U.S. policy toward Iraq. In the United States, Iraq could well be one of the most important issues on voters’ minds when they make their choice in the presidential contest. The campaigns have raised expectations that major changes may be in the offing, even if the clarity of campaign aspirations may need to bend somewhat to the harsh realities of troop deployments, funding needs, and potential destabilization from changing course too.

Iraqis too will be asked to register their choices in provincial elections in fall 2008 and in national elections in December 2009. A new U.S. administration could find itself dealing with different Iraqi political leaders than those collaborating with President Bush, possibly taking more stringent positions on the U.S. military presence in the country, among other issues.

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