Iraq Runneth Over
Daniel L. Byman and Kenneth M. Pollack pen an almost impossibly grim prognosis for the Middle East as Iraq slides inevitably into civil war:
The debate is over: By any definition,
Iraq is in a state of civil war. Indeed, the only thing standing between Iraq and a descent into total Bosnia-like devastation is 135,000 U.S. troops — and even they are merely slowing the fall. The internecine conflict could easily spiral into one that threatens not only Iraq but also its neighbors throughout the oil-rich Persian Gulf region with instability, turmoil and war.
The consequences of an all-out civil war in
Iraq could be dire. Considering the experiences of recent such conflicts, hundreds of thousands of people may die. Refugees and displaced people could number in the millions. And with Iraqi insurgents, militias and organized crime rings wreaking havoc on Iraq‘s oil infrastructure, a full-scale civil war could send global oil prices soaring even higher.
However, the greatest threat that the
United States would face from civil war in Iraq is from the spillover — the burdens, the instability, the copycat secession attempts and even the follow-on wars that could emerge in neighboring countries. Welcome to the new “new Middle East” — a region where civil wars could follow one after another, like so many Cold War dominoes.
The authors offer some options, most of which they concede are likely to fail.