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Iraq is the most pressing national security issue facing the United States today. This book evaluates the costs and benefits of five alternative strategies the United States could pursue in Iraq. The authors argue that, as long as the United States remains in Iraq, policy actions must focus on improving the security of Iraq’s population by reducing violence. They offer recommendations for ways in which U.S. political, security, and economic policies in Iraq could be better geared to support this goal, though they emphasize the challenges inherent in this endeavor. Specific recommendations focus on embedding and vetting efforts for both forces and government structures and on targeting economic assistance more effectively. The authors also suggest policies that might be implemented if violence subsides — but that should not be undertaken unless and until it does. The book concludes with a discussion of next steps if the United States decides to withdraw from Iraq, arguing that the United States needs to prepare now to mitigate the effects of failure.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Defining and Assessing Alternative Strategies for Iraq

  • Chapter Three

    Political Suasion

  • Chapter Four

    Security: Targeting Aid and Influence

  • Chapter Five

    How Economic Policies Can Help

  • Chapter Six

    Policy Priorities If — and Only If — Violence Declines

  • Chapter Seven

    Next Steps If Violence Fails to Decline

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The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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