Retreating in Good Order

June 1, 2004 Topic: Security Regions: Persian GulfMiddle East

Retreating in Good Order

Mini Teaser: The United States should begin a strategic withdrawal from Iraq now because it was never in the interest of the United States to invade that country in the first place.

by Author(s): William E. Odom

To regain international support and to have the resources of our allies available for a comprehensive strategy toward the region, the United States will have to produce a highly positive outcome in Iraq or withdraw. Since we are reasonably sure that a positive outcome is impossible, and certainly decades away in the best event, withdrawal is the most sensible course today.

Our military investment in Iraq is what economists call a "sunk cost." We cannot retrieve it by investing more there, no matter how much. Thus, to say that we cannot afford to fail is a costly illusion. We ensured failure when we decided to invade. Our choices now are to get out of Iraq early, regroup with our allies, and try to stabilize the region, or to continue down the present path in Iraq and risk the dissolution of the American-led international order.

Essay Types: Essay