Stephen Biddle, Senior Fellow for Defense Policy at CFR, discusses his latest trip to Iraq in this interview. He remarks on the growing Iraqi forces:
The Iraqi Security Forces are now so large that there's some danger of Praetorianisma coup d’étatgrowing in Iraq. Interestingly, when you look back to the pre-Petraeus era [before Gen. David Petraeus took command of coalition forces in Iraq in early 2007], one of the reasons that the ISF didn't grow so fast was because there were fears that if they got too big, they would either pose a threat to Iraq's neighbors or a threat to Iraq's civilian government...I think one of the things our presence does is moderate and mitigate that dramatically. It's much harder to imagine a Praetorian solution, a coup d'état, a military government as long as we are there. If we were to leave, you could easily imagine a situation in which the military as the most effective institution in society decides to take over. The parliament is the least respected institution in Iraqi society.
Bittle's remarks seem candid and even-handed. The rest of the interview is worth a read. I keep thinking of Oscar Wilde when pondering Iraq. Whenever we seem to have solved the Iraqi question, the Iraqis change the question.
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