The original justification for the invasion of Iraq, the incompetence displayed in its aftermath, and the high costs of the occupation have undermined the possibility of bipartisan agreement on Iraq. The danger for both US policymakers and the long-suffering Iraqi people is that American politics will continue to shape Iraq policy well beyond the next US presidential election on 4 November 2008. While both candidates have presented starkly different plans for Iraq, those seeking to influence the political and military strategy of the next US president have been held hostage by domestic party concerns. The hazard for the next president is that his Iraq policy will owe much more to bitter and ideologically driven arguments in Washington than the actual situation in Baghdad. In order for the next president to avoid yet another Iraq debacle, both candidates? policies need to be held up against the Iraqi realities they wish to shape.
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