Time to Leave Iraq

I have been a supporter of a deliberate, and fairly rapid withdrawal of US forces from Iraq because I do not believe that the US can accomplish its political goals in the country. The best counter-argument to this position has been that US forces are the only buffer forces that prevent the current bloodshed of 100+ civilians killed per day in the past couple of months from getting worse.

However I read this Knight Ridder report concerning Baghdad:

There are about 8,000 American soldiers in Baghdad, said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a top U.S. spokesman in Iraq.

“They can’t be everywhere all the time in a city of over 7 million people,” he said.

I had been operating under the assumption that the Baghdad force numbered six or so brigades with supporting elements, leading to 30,000-40,000 US uniformed personnel in the capital and its immediate suburbs. I was wrong. If there are only 8,000 US soldiers in the capital, this is a force that is tactically, and operationally insignificant as a presence force, and who can only serve as a rapid counterattack force. This is a force ratio half of that maintained by the Pittsburgh Police Department (900 officers, 330,000 people).

And given the news that we have seen in the past couple of months, it is a force that has not successfully stopped platoon and company sized units of Iraqis of whatever primary loyalties from going on rampages agaist civilians within the Baghdad area of operation.

I am extraordnarily curious as to where the US is deploying forces if they are not in Baghdad for Baghdad is the country’s center of gravity and it is spiralling out of control as it is right now. If Baghdad is chaotic, the rest of Iraq can not function as a country — it can only function as quasi-autonomous regions. If Anbar province is chaos, the rest of the country can still function reasonably well. I am extremely curious as to where the rest of the US forces are if these reports are accurate.

I know that the dispersal of US forces from the capital have not led to a decrease in overall insurgent attacks:

“Other months have shown similar increases: April was up 59 percent, to 86 this year from 54 last year, and May was up 44 percent, to 91 from 63, according to figures supplied by the U.S. military in Baghdad.

Statistics compiled by the Brookings Institution in Washington indicate that daily attacks by insurgents have risen consistently during the past three years.

They also show a steady rise in multiple-fatality bombings,

Therefore, I believe that the argument that apres les etats unis le deluge is an invalid argument. The deluge is already here.

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