ANALYSIS - Biden Unlikely To Resist Neocon Policy Pressures On Iraq Troops Pullout Strategy

ANALYSIS - Biden Unlikely to Resist Neocon Policy Pressures on Iraq Troops Pullout Strategy

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 30th July, 2021) US President Joe Biden is unlikely to resist the still dominant neoconservative influence at the Pentagon and CIA to maintain a serious military presence in lraq, analysts told Sputnik.

Earlier this week, Biden announced that all US combat troops would leave Iraq by the end of the year. However, he also said the US military would leave behind a small non-combat force to provide training and assistance to counter the Islamic State terrorist group (outlawed in Russia).

When Biden came into office he surrounded himself with a cabinet and senior advisers who had supported wars and military action in Iraq and Syria, among other countries. Biden, however, as vice president opposed some of the Obama administration's aggressive policies but, apparently, his objections did not change the decisions.

"I don't see him pushing back against pervasive neoconservative Pentagon and CIA interests in maintaining more than non-combat assistance in Iraq," former USAF Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, a veteran Pentagon analyst, said. "Neoconservatives in the US security bureaucracy have remained influential since George W. Bush's administration, and that influence persists under Biden."

It would also be easy for Biden to backtrack on his widely publicized and so far popular commitment to a full evacuation of US troops from Iraq after 18 years of occupation because the nature of the American military presence there had deliberately been made so opaque and blurred, Kwiatkowski pointed out.

"There is rarely a clean line between training, assisting, anti-terrorism, and actual combat. Biden can follow through on his pledge, but merge easily back into combat-style activities, especially given the Pentagon penchant for troop security and its reluctance to draw down from these long-term and heavily invested missions," she said.

The United States was certainly not pulling out of the middle East and Biden clearly remained committed to upholding the US powerful military presence in the region, Kwiatkowski said.

"It is possible Syria and Saudi Arabia will serve as the main loci for [US] combat response in the region, and Biden will try to conduct war via air, sea and satellite - staying 'true' to his word about leaving Iraq," she said.

However, US policy bungles under Biden's predecessor President Donald Trump and his national security adviser John Bolton had already driven even the current Iraqi government much further into the arms of Iran, Kwiatkowski said.

"Iraq today is closer to Iran politically as a result of a number of missteps stemming from neoconservative John Bolton's encouragement of Trump to kill Iranian General [Qasem] Soleimani in June 2019, over six months before Trump actually approved the attack that killed the general in January 2020 as he visited Iran on a peace mission," she said.

Also, during Biden's long record of 30 years in the Senate and eight more as vice president, he had never ever stood up and opposed aggressive neocon driven policies across the Middle East, Kwiatkowski noted.

Independent Institute Center on Peace & Liberty Director Ivan Eland said he believed Biden was sincere in wanting to end the apparently endless US military involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But he agreed with Kwiatkowski that the president was unlikely to withstand pressure to send troops back into them.

"Biden seems intent on getting out of US combat missions in America's two 'forever wars'... However, the question is whether the administration will be able to withstand pressure from the US foreign policy establishment if bad developments in Afghanistan and Iraq occur, which are likely," he said.

If the Islamic State resurges in Iraq, Iranian-sponsored Shi'a militias can probably handle it, Eland noted, but the US may still feel the need to act.

"There would be some pressure for America to 'do something' and escalate involvement," he noted.

However, Biden appeared committed to getting out of Iraq if the American public does not believe the interventionist media hype over the alleged "dangers" arising in both nations and the video from them is not too graphic, Eland conceded.

"I think the public is tired of those long wars and will ultimately permit Biden to withdraw," he concluded.