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Exclusive: U.S. Plans Removal Of US. Troops In Event Of Iraq Civil War :: Iraq—Plans in Case of a Civil War
By Richard Wolffe and John Barry :: 6 Aug 2006 Newsweek — Aug. 14, 2006 issue
The Bush administration insists Iraq is a long way from civil war, but the contingency planning has already begun inside the White House and the Pentagon. President Bush will move U.S. troops out of Iraq if the country descends into civil war, according to one senior Bush aide who declined to be named while talking about internal strategy. “If there’s a full-blown civil war, the president isn’t going to allow our forces to be caught in the crossfire,” the aide said. “But institutionally, the government of Iraq isn’t breaking down. It’s still a unity government.” Bush’s position on a pullout of U.S. troops emerged in response to news-week’s questions about Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Warner warned last week that the president might require a new vote from Congress to allow troops to stay in Iraq in what he called “all-out civil war.” But the senior Bush aide said the White House would need no prompting from Congress to get troops out “if the Iraqi government broke down completely along sectarian lines.”
The White House prefers to focus on the more positive aspects of last week’s testimony from Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, and Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The generals gave a bleak assessment of the sectarian violence, but added that civil war was only a possibility, not a probability. In fact, the U.S. military in Iraq has completed several elements of contingency planning in case of civil war, based on lessons learned from Bosnia and Kosovo. The military’s approach revolves around three principles. The first is to stop massacres by physically separating communities, moving minorities out of harm’s way if necessary. The second is to stop the flow of paramilitary gangs across the country. And the third is to halt any incitement to violence on Iraqi TV and radio. Baghdad would pose the biggest problem, requiring a strict curfew and a ban on road traffic. The security measures would include widespread checkpoints and a ban on carrying firearms or explosives.
The administration hasn’t made its definition of full-blown civil war explicit. But in March, when Iraq’s former prime minister Ayad Allawi said the country was already fighting a civil war, Bush disagreed, noting the existence of Iraq’s nonsectarian Army and government. If the country did someday meet the definition of civil war and the U.S. pulled out, military officials warn, the consequences would be disastrous. “All the neighboring powers would be drawn in,” said one senior military official who has examined the scenarios and is not authorized to speak on the record. “It would become a regional war.”
© 2006 MSNBC.com