Among the American people, it seems most are inclined to put the disastrous near-nine-year war out of mind and to focus on the Christmas holidays. However, there are sure to be recriminations among Washington's chattering class during Campaign 2012.
Indeed, given the U.S. news media's failure to have learned lasting lessons from getting snookered in 2002-2003 over Bush's false WMD claims, it is very possible that the neocons will ride back into power behind a new Republican president in 2013, with a renewed determination to start a new Middle East war, this time against Iran.
It's also possible that Obama could be mouse-trapped into an Israeli-instigated war against Iran, especially if Israel decides to strike Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program before Election 2012. Obama may see little choice but to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel.
It should be remembered that the last two U.S. presidents who got themselves on Israel's bad side, Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Republican George H.W. Bush in 1988, went down to electoral defeat.
Many of the leading Republican presidential contenders sense this political opportunity to drive a wedge between pro-Israel Jewish voters and Democrats. That helps explain the current GOP competition for taking the toughest pro-Israeli positions (although it is also a pander to many Christian fundamentalists).
The stance of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- calling the Palestinians an "invented people" and dismissing them as "terrorists" -- is even more extreme than the positions of Israel's Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Indeed, Gingrich seems to be laying the groundwork for ethnically cleansing the West Bank of Palestinians.
Gingrich also made clear that he thinks simply bombing Iran's nuclear sites isn't enough, that a joint U.S.-Israeli invasion to force "regime change" is the only way to go. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Will Iraq Debacle Prevent Iran War?']
So, it is possible -- maybe even likely -- that the American military withdrawal from Iraq will represent only a respite before a new round of fear-mongering, word-twisting and chest-thumping leads the United States into another Middle East war.
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