Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 04/2007

After the Surge: The Case for U.S. Military Disengagement from Iraq

Steven Simon

February 2007

Council on Foreign Relations


Iraq has come to dominate U.S. foreign policy—and the controversy over Iraq has come to dominate the debate over U.S. foreign policy. This report by Steven N. Simon, the Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, makes a major contribution to that debate.

After the Surge: The Case for U.S. Military Disengagement from Iraq is premised on the judgment that the United States is not succeeding in Iraq and that Iraq itself is more divided and violent than ever. It concludes that the administration’s decision to increase U.S. force levels will fail to prevent further deterioration in the situation—and that there is no alternative policy with the potential to turn things around.

As a result, Simon urges the United States to disengage militarily from Iraq, a disengagement that in his view should involve a negotiated accord with Iraq’s government, a dialogue with Iraq’s neighbors, and new diplomatic initiatives throughout the region. Simon argues that if the United States does all this, it can minimize the strategic costs of its failure in Iraq and even offset these losses in whole or in part.

I expect that many readers will disagree with some of Simon’s analysis or his proposals. But I am confident that every reader will benefit from his deep and broad knowledge, his penetrating analysis, and the challenge of his arguments. This is an important paper written in a compelling manner about a critical issue.

Richard N. Haass
Council on Foreign Relations
February 2007