Europeans Say The U.S. Cannot Leave

Philadelphia Inquirer — Europeans Say The U.S. Cannot Leave

Despite strong opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and a continued nervousness about a European presence there, few European foreign-policy experts believe the United States can withdraw its troops from Iraq without creating global chaos.

Asked recently what the United States should do about Iraq, expert after expert repeated one assertion: Whatever the result of the U.S. presidential election in November, Americans must be prepared to stay in Iraq, perhaps for years.

Even as popular pressure mounts in ally nations Britain, Italy, Poland and Denmark to remove troops from Iraq, and though Spain has withdrawn its troops, the foreign-policy experts said the United States could not leave. Why? Because while the war has always been unpopular, the notion of a chaotic Iraq is terrifying.

“Listen, I was dead-set against intervention,” said Jurg Martin Gabriel, director of the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, a joint venture between Switzerland and Malta whose primary task is training leaders for Arab nations. “But now that they’re in, they have to see it out. I hope whoever is the U.S. president next year understands they should plan on being there for a long while.”

A spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs predicted that if the U.S.-led coalition pulled out at once, “Iraq would be in civil war within 24 hours.”

“As difficult as the decision was to go to Iraq, the decision to leave is more difficult,” said Bart Jochem. “Can we turn our backs on the Iraqi people? I’m afraid that would be bad for the country, bad for the people, bad for the region, and bad for the world. It would, however, be good for the terrorists.”

What do you mean “We,” Kimosabe?

How European experts feel about the United States’ presence in Iraq might not boost their countries’ willingness to send more troops. There is virtually no popular support for dispatching European troops to Iraq, and a U.S.-sponsored U.N. resolution that would create a U.N. force has received tepid response.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    The Euro-weenie asks: Can we turn our backs on the Iraqi people?

    You already did, weasel — when you didn’t support holding Saddam to account for flouting all those Security Council resolutions.

  2. Kate says:

    If Bart Jochem is Dutch, then yes – I believe he can use “we”.

  3. James Joyner says:


    True enough.