An Enduring American Commitment in Iraq

Shaping a Long-Term Strategy with Iraqi Army Partners

by Ben Connable


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The author of this Perspective argues that the United States should make a full and enduring commitment to Iraq by providing robust, long-term assistance to the Iraqi Army. A clear-eyed look at the current situation in Iraq suggests that 2020 could represent a potential turning point for U.S. policy. U.S. military and diplomatic influence is arguably as strong as it has been since the 2011 withdrawal, but Iraq's urgent need for U.S. military assistance may not endure. Competition from Iran, Russia, and China in Iraq and across the Middle East is fierce. All three of these countries may offer more-appealing deals than the United States. It is time to make a full and enduring commitment to Iraq before fleeting opportunities are lost. Risks and benefits should be weighed carefully, but quickly. The best way to establish that commitment is through robust, long-term assistance to the Iraqi Army.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction: Iraq's Army and U.S. National Security

  • Chapter Two

    Iraq's Importance to U.S. National Security Interests

  • Chapter Three

    America's Experience with and in Iraq, 1979–2019

  • Chapter Four

    Iraq at the Heart of American Foreign Policy: 1979–2019

  • Chapter Five

    Current Strategic Importance of Iraq and Its Army: Late 2019

  • Chapter Six

    Iraq's Army as a Focal Point for Enduring Strategic Development

  • Chapter Seven

    A Policy for Enduring Commitment in Iraq

  • Chapter Eight

    Building Iraqi Army Combat Effectiveness

  • Chapter Nine

    Summing Up

This philanthropically supported research was funded by income earned on client-funded research and though the support of RAND donors. It was conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

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