No one knows the answer to the question - what happens when we pull out? Except the Obama administration that seems to be basing its fiscal and foreign policy on an assumption that would have been regarded as a pipe-dream only a year ago. Michael Totten is trying to find an answer in the mysterious and always evolving morass that is Mesopotamia. His first of four inquiries is here. Hit the tip jar. This strikes me as a perfectly feasible option if and when the country that isn't a country resumes its naturally centrfugal, violent state:

“If you pull out of here and leave us,” General Nasser said, “we know the remedy for Iraqi people. We will use force.”

Just like we did. There's also an interesting discussion of the possible effect in Iraq of an Israeli attack on Iran:


“Do you think,” I said, “the Iranian government can dial up the violence here whenever it wants to?” Iran might very well wish to ramp up attacks against American soldiers in Iraq if Israel strikes Iranian nuclear facilities later this year or next. But Iran can't retaliate significantly in Iraq if the Shia militias are a spent force.
“The Iranians,” he said, “have already used all the violent force in Iraq that they were able to use. Iraq was caught in the middle between Iran and America. This war has been a proxy war fought inside Iraq. Iraqi Shias could only get support from Iran, but Sunnis have all the Arab countries to help them. If Sunni countries stop supporting Sunnis militias, Shias will stop seeking support from Iran. You know what Al Qaeda did to the markets here. We were forced to seek support from Iran.”
Maybe General Nasser is right, and maybe he isn't. I heard a different answer earlier from an American military officer who asked not to be quoted by name. “Iran has been restrained,” he said. “Tehran doesn't want to trigger an open war with the United States. They can turn up the violence if they want to, but if they do, we might be forced to do something about it. So they don't want to.”
“If the U.S. solves three problems,” the general said, “American-Arab relations will be very good. First, resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Second, promote democracy in the Arab world. Third, destroy the Wahhabis. If you solve these problems, all will be well.”

To which a hollow, somewhat desperate laugh might be the only appropriate response.

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