December 15th, 2011
01:00 PM ET

Freier: Will Iraq descend into chaos?

Editor's Note: Nathan Freier is a former Army officer, a senior fellow with CSIS's New Defense Approaches Project, and a Visiting Research Professor at the U.S. Army's Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute. He served in Iraq as a military strategist and travelled to Iraq on three occasions since leaving active duty to provide strategic advice.

By Nathan Freier - Special to CNN

From the beginning, I was convinced that American expectations for Iraq were unrealistic. Monday's press conference reinforced that conviction. In fact, I may be even more skeptical today. A "win" now - a relatively weak Iraq that doesn't trouble us or its neighbors and isn't a client of Iran - is a substantially lower bar than that which defined success in 2003. Leaving a token force there indefinitely would not change the outcome.

Yet, with the U.S. military presence ending this month, securing even this minimalist endstate will require continued U.S. attention and, therefore, should remain an administration priority. It isn't at all clear that this is the case. In fact, given the course of events in the Middle East, any administration would be challenged regardless of their attentiveness. Frankly, there is enormous risk associated with a politically under-developed Iraq suddenly adrift in a very difficult and unsettled neighborhood. FULL POST

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Topics: Iraq