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Two eminent foreign policy analysts debated the merits of a protracted war in Iraq Thursday night at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum.
Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress and a former U.S. assistant secretary of defense, expressed opposition to a long term American presence in Iraq, saying that “the longer we stay, the more our credibility is undermined.”
He argued further that the United States has no good options in Iraq at this point. “No matter what option you take, you cannot argue that it will turn out well,” he argued.
Korb told the Forum audience that he favors a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawl sooner rather than later. “It’s a civil war and our troops were not meant to patrol a civil war,” he said.
Victor Davis Hanson, senior fellow at Stanford University, countered Korb’s argument, saying that U.S. troops must remain in Iraq until the region is stabilized. “If we were to leave precipitously, there would be a bloodbath,” he said.
“We are light years ahead in Iraq after three years (compared to) after a decade in Vietnam, but I would suggest that we owe the Iraqis a little more time,” Hanson continued. “A precipitous withdrawl would endanger lives, (threaten the) security of the United States, and it wouldn’t be the moral thing to do. It would be the amoral thing to do.”
The debate was moderated by Lt. Gen. Tad Oelstrom, director of the Kennedy School’s National Security Program.
The Forum event is web-streamed on the Institute of Politics website: http://iopforum.harvard.edu:8080/ramgen/fr20061012iraq.rm
Photos by Kris Snibbe, Harvard News Office