As expected, the first item on the agenda of the now Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress is to look for a way out of Iraq. There has been talk of gradual troop reductions in the coming months until some kind of graceful exit is made. Easier said than done. The Commander-in-Chief is still committed to continuing the conflict, until “victory” (however this may be defined) is attained. War also has a momentum of its own which cannot be halted by mere rhetoric. Even strong public opinion, as expressed in the recent U.S. legislative polls, may not be able stop the war.
The Americans, not to mention their allies, are in too deep too pull out now. Inevitably, however, recent developments in the U.S. will cause a shift in the U.S. allies’ policy towards Iraq. With the imminent departure of Prime Minister Tony Blair, a staunch Bush supporter, the first to leave the coalition might be the U.K.
A hasty withdrawal will signal the beginning of an even wider civil war which will likely spill over the region, with catastrophic effects. The U.S. and other allied forces are therefore forced to maintain their presence indefinitely no matter how unpopular the war becomes at home. It took the U.S. the better part of a decade to disengage from Vietnam, even after an official policy of withdrawal was announced by the government. Iraq will be no different.