Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business: An American Strategy for Iraq Moving Forward

Kenneth M. Pollack
Raad Alkadiri
J. Scott Carpenter
Frederick W. Kagan
Sean Kane
With contributions from Joost Hiltermann
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 129
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt1262xf
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  • Book Info
    Unfinished Business
    Book Description:

    Iraq still hangs in the balance. The dramatic improvements in Iraqi security between 2007 and 2009 have produced important, but incomplete changes in the nation's politics. These changes make it possible to imagine Iraq slowly muddling upward, building gradually toward a better future. But we must be constantly on guard against the considerable potential for Iraq to slip into all-out civil war. There are dozens of scenarios -from military coups, to official misconduct, to the assassination of one or two key leaders - that could spark such violence.

    InUnfinished Business, a team of five experts from across the political spectrum analyze the situation in Iraq. They present a well-reasoned and feasible path for U.S. policy toward Baghdad -one that would give priority to preventing Iraq from slipping into civil war or becoming an aggressive state but that would also lead to a clear American goal: a new, strong, and prosperous ally in the Middle East.

    Ultimately, the United States must condition the continuation of the U.S.-Iraqi relationship on the willingness of Iraqi political leaders to guide their country in the direction of greater stability, inclusivity, and effective governance.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2166-6
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Kenneth M. Pollack, Raad Alkadiri, J. Scott Carpenter, Frederick W. Kagan and Sean Kane
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Iraq still hangs in the balance. The dramatic improvements in Iraqi security between 2007 and 2009 have produced important, but incomplete changes in Iraq’s politics. These changes make it possible to imagine Iraq slowly muddling upward, building gradually toward a better future.

    However, Americans must be constantly on guard against the considerable potential for Iraq to slip into all-out civil war. There are dozens of scenarios—from military coups, to official misconduct, to the assassination of one or two key leaders—that could spark such violence. The conflict might look somewhat different than before, perhaps featuring Arab-Kurd conflict, greater intra-Shi’i...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Goals and Influence
    (pp. 11-34)

    America is not finished in Iraq. Not in any sense of the word. American interests in Iraq have not yet been secured, and so the United States will probably remain deeply engaged in Iraq for years to come. America’s influence there may have abated, but it is far from spent. Indeed, the United States remains one of the most influential actors in Iraq, although that influence will only remain if Washington learns to wield it more skillfully.

    President Obama warned “that we have not seen the end of American sacrifice in Iraq” and stressed that he wants to bring the...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Politics
    (pp. 35-60)

    Politics has become the center of gravity of the American effort toward Iraq. But we don’t mean American politics. We mean that the future of Iraq will be principally determined by the course of its domestic politics, and that in turn will determine whether America’s vital interests there are safeguarded. Security in Iraq has improved significantly, but it will only hold over the long term if Iraqi politics sorts itself out and is able to provide for the people, govern the country, and resolve its internal antagonisms. If Iraq’s domestic political framework collapses, so too will the country’s security. Iraq’s...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Security
    (pp. 61-86)

    At present, all American troops are scheduled to depart Iraq by December 31, 2011, when the current Security Agreement between Iraq and the United States expires. Nevertheless, there are clear potential security and political benefits of a continued American military presence in Iraq after that date if it is agreed to and requested by the Iraqis. Both the United States and Iraq have compelling national interests in establishing and sustaining a long-term relationship across the political, economic, and security realms. In the near term, a continued presence of U.S. troops is likely to help sustain Iraq’s recent security gains and...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Governance and Economics
    (pp. 87-104)

    Perhaps nowhere else have U.S. goals and interests in Iraq changed more over the last several years than in the economics and governance sphere. The Bush administration’s need to justify the invasion of Iraq gave it a compelling interest in turning Iraq into a functional, thriving democracy. This then required that Iraq progress in virtually every sector. Even later, during the period of the surge, when Washington’s goal was first and foremost to prevent Iraq’s descent into an all-consuming civil war, the United States still needed the Iraqi governmental and economic structures to function properly to undermine support for the...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Regional Issues
    (pp. 105-114)

    For many years, the United States strove mightily to enlist the efforts of Iraq’s neighbors to help stabilize the country. In some cases, the neighbors proved helpful, but in most they did not—in fact, they were often the source of many of Iraq’s problems. Indeed, Iraq’s neighbors have a much greater ability to cause harm to Iraq than to take constructive action that could genuinely help the country. For that reason, it is perhaps the best news of all that the influence of Iraq’s neighbors is declining.

    Iraqis are fiercely nationalistic and tend to dislike their neighbors. Consequently, as...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 115-120)
  11. About the Authors
    (pp. 121-124)
  12. Index
    (pp. 125-130)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 131-132)