By Peter Grier
The Christian Science Monitor
March 18, 2008
WASHINGTON – On the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, progress is slow but violence is down. A three-part series on the war’s effects starts today with a look at what the endgame might look like.
Iraqi soldiers hold Iraqi national flags as they march during a graduation ceremony in Besmaya Range Complex March 18, 2008. The graduation ceremony was held for the 4th Brigade of the 5th Division of the Iraqi Army.REUTERS/Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud (IRAQ)
The Iraq war might end like this:
•Iraqi Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds uneasily share power and wealth in a single state. Sectarian violence, as well as terrorism linked to, are diminished but not eliminated. Overseeing all this are perhaps 30,000 to 50,000 US troops, deployed in for years, maybe decades.
•Iraq is partitioned, accompanied by a return to the widespread sectarian violence of 2006 – times two.
Five years after the invasion of Iraq, those scenarios might be the best and worse cases that the United States now can aim for. One key to the outcome may be how long the US stays engaged in the expensive, drawn-out conflict.
From the point of view of the US, the Iraq war might be over when a president simply declares an endpoint. To an Iraqi, it might take much longer than that. Iraq today might be only at the midpoint, even the beginning, of a cycle of epic geopolitical change, say some analysts in a Monitor survey of experts in the region as well as in the US. For evidence, look at the Balkans….