“It’s not clear that the United States has the political will to stay with this much longer,” Curley said, before asking the panelists what happens next.
Hurst responded: “I hope that what happens next doesn’t happen until after there is a long period of examination of the ethical question that needs to be answered, and, that is, there is a situation in Iraq today — leave aside how it got that way — for which the United States bears some, if not a lot of responsibility. My guess — and, I think, it’s a guess, perhaps a prediction, held by a lot of people who are more expert than me — is that when the United States goes, if it goes too quickly from Iraq, that there will be a great deal of killing and a lot of bloodshed.”
Hurst added: “I think clearly, though, that when the United States begins to leave, if there hasn’t been some sort of miraculous turnaround there — there’s no sign of that — that there is going to be a lot of violence. A lot of violence. You’ll probably end up with a much more radical style Shiite-led government in at least part of Iraq, if it isn’t partitioned completely … It’s probably an outcome that had the American public known about, going into it, there would have been a lot less fervor and support for the war.”
And the thing is, I’d like to say that Hurst is right, that if it had been made clear to the American people that it was going to be a total cock-up on the level we’re seeing today, they’d have said eh, let’s go blow someplace else up instead. But I have no such confidence, really. Americans wanted to kick the shit out of somebody, and Iraq would do, is basically how it went, and if you don’t think that’s how it would go next time, you haven’t been paying attention.
Plus there was a whole store of Iraqi jokes left over from Gulf War I that we could use at parties, and patriotic songs about putting boots in people’s asses. You can’t waste that kind of opportunity.