Now that President Bush has a Democratic Congress, and Rumsfeld has resigned, what will happen in Iraq? Will the new congress insist that our troops leave? Will it become a full fledged civil war?or is it that already?

It’s interesting to get a British perspective on the question, since ours has been so mired in recent election mudslinging. Anne Penketh writes in the Independent that the new congress could go in many different directions, and analyzes some of these. The first possibility is that congress will follow the Powell doctrine (named after the first Bush Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, who, based on his experience in Vietnam, basically said, “Don’t go in if you can’t win”), and increase th enumber of troops from the current 150,000 who are struggling to contain the insurgency there now. Penketh doesn’t think that American?or British?voters will stand for this, since both groups now see this as a futile exercise.

Another option would be to leave immediately and leave the Iraqis to their fate. Since we are largely seen by the rest of the world as having started this whole mess, it’s likely that cutting and running will make us even less popular with the rest of the world, and this will reduce our power and plausibility in the future, when we may need the support of the rest of the world when confronting enemies like Iran and North Korea. We could also do a phased withdrawal, in stages, but what would we then do if it becomes obvious that the Iraqis are not able to take up the slack?

There is a third option: we could stay indefinitely. We would then be seen as “occupiers,” especially by Middle Eastern countries, but it would be a way to protect the oil resources there, which could become vitally important to the West in the future.

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