On the Front Porch with Brent Orrell and Tony Pipa: A conversation with Kevin R. Kosar


On the Front Porch with Brent Orrell and Tony Pipa: A conversation with Kevin R. Kosar



A Third Way: Alternatives for Iraq’s Future

Daniel L. Byman
Daniel L. Byman
Daniel L. Byman Director and Professor, Security Studies Program - Georgetown University, Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy

July 18, 2007

Chairman Snyder, Ranking Member Akin, distinguished members of the Subcommittee, and Committee staff, I am grateful for this opportunity to speak before you today.

Despite the massive U.S. investment in lives and dollars, the situation in Iraq is steadily deteriorating with no end in sight. I believe that the United States will not be able to bring peace and stability to Iraq in the next several years. Even in the long-term, ending the Iraqi civil war would require a far larger military and civilian commitment than we currently have-and even then the prospects for success are uncertain. Moreover, domestic political support for the Iraq mission is diminishing, making it difficult for the United States to bear the heavy burden of the war for years to come. Because I am skeptical of our chances for success and because I recognize the heavy human, financial, and diplomatic costs of remaining in Iraq, I reluctantly advocate substantially reducing our troop presence and abandoning our current policy that prioritizes defeating the insurgents and building the Iraqi state for a policy that actively aims to mitigate the consequences of U.S. drawdown. I do not take this stance lightly because I believe that a U.S. drawdown will have severe costs for the Iraqi people and could worsen several U.S. strategic interests in Iraq and in the region.

Unfortunately, just as administration officials “best-cased” the planning for the initial invasion of Iraq, critics of the war are making a similar mistake with regard to a U.S. withdrawal. Although it may seem like the situation cannot get worse, it easily can: the problems of Iraq could spill over into neighboring states and beyond.