The United States could find itself fighting another
major war in Iraq unless it quells the Sunni insurgency a major U.S. think tank has concluded.
A report by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and
International Studies warned that the U.S.-led civil administration must act
quickly to stabilize Iraq. The alternative could be the outbreak of a major
U.S. war against the Iraqi people.
"It is far from clear that the United States can win this kind of
asymmetric war," the report said. "The key lesson for the future should be
that the strategic and grand strategic dimensions of psychological and
political warfare are at least as important as the tactical dimensions of
warfare. Effective operations must focus on conflict termination and nation
building long before any actual fighting begins."
Meanwhile, the U.S. military commander in Iraq said he envisions
American troops in Iraq until at least 2005. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said
Iraq would require a U.S. military presence until the Iraqi army is
completed with three divisions, Middle East Newsline reported.
"The problem is that after a great military victory, the United States
and its allies have done far too little to win the peace," the report,
entitled "Iraq and Conflict Termination: The Road to Guerrilla War?," said.
"Unless this situation changes soon, and radically, the United States may
end up fighting a third Gulf War against the Iraqi people. If it does, this
war will be primarily political, economic, ethnic, and sectarian."
"From a military standpoint, we will have three divisions of Iraqi
military stood up in a period of two years, so at an absolute minimum we'll
be here for that long, probably longer to be sure they're capable," Sanchez
The report, authored by senior fellow Anthony Cordesman, envisioned
continued security threats to the U.S. military in Iraq. They included
insurgency and ethnic tensions and threats as well increasing alienation of
the Shi'ite majority.
The most likely scenario is that the United States will achieve
sufficient progress in rebuilding Iraq to allow coalition troops to leave.
Such a scenario does not envision any transformation of the Middle East.
The institute criticizes the U.S. plan for a 40,000-member Iraqi
military. The report said this constitutes a token military that
leaves Iraq defenseless against Iran and Turkey as well as dependent on
Britain and the United States.
The report said it could not predict how long the guerrilla war in Iraq
would last. Cordesman linked the situation in Iraq to a resolution of the
"They must address the Arab-Israeli peace problem in ways that have
considerably more visibility and success, and they must deal with a host of
problems in rebuilding their relations in the Arab world and the West," the