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War games show Bush wrong on Iraq pullout; Qaeda unlikely to succeed
David Edwards and Will Menaker
Published: Thursday July 19, 2007
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Supporters of the war in Iraq -- including President George W. Bush -- claim that a withdrawal of US forces would lead to an al Qaeda takeover of Iraq. Yet according to Pentagon war games, this scenario is highly unlikely.

On Wednesday's Countdown Keith Olbermann interviewed Washington Post correspondent Thomas Ricks who discussed his article on Pentagon war gaming for a post-US Iraq.

Pentagon simulations on US withdrawal find the most likely scenario would be a three-way split of the country between Kurds, Shias, and Sunnis. Ricks warns while the breakup would be "very ugly," with possibly "tens of thousands of people dying," an al Qaeda takeover of Iraq would not be possible by "any stretch of the imagination."

In addition, the war games also found Iran would not benefit from US withdrawal, and in fact would be sucked in to the same kind of destabilizing sectarian conflict the US finds itself embroiled in.

Olbermann asked Ricks whether it is fair to draw the conclusion that the best way to stop Iran from interfering in Iraq is to leave, to which Ricks responded, that while there are no "good answers" left in Iraq, leaving would make it significantly easier to deal with Iran.

Ricks noted that while these lessons appear to be taken to heart by members of the military, it is ultimately up to them to convince the White House come September, when this war will become "General Petraeus' war" just as much as it is Bush's.

The following video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast on July 18.