U.S. Envoy to Iraq Draws Parallel to Lebanon

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Note: Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET.

U.S. News Senior Writer Linda Robinson sends us this news from Baghdad from her interview today with Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. The career foreign service officer, who is fluent in Arabic, drew a connection to his stints as a diplomat in Beirut in the 1980s and 1990s, during and after the Lebanese civil war. He makes a point that the situation in Iraq could become much worse if there is an abrupt U.S. military withdrawal.

"In Lebanon, we used to say in the early '80s, there is no bottom. You can't do a worst-case scenario because your imagination isn't sufficiently strong enough to really conceive of what a worst case can be. I feel that very much about Iraq. If you look at a communal map of Baghdad, a whole lot of it is still very mixed. Partition is lunacy.

"When people talk about partition, what they are really talking about is ethnic cleansing on a scale that is beyond horrific. Because that's the only way you are going to get partition, if it goes that way. It's going to be street by street. I watched this happen in Lebanon. I watched neighborhoods get isolated. The Shia in Carantina, east Beirut. In a sense there, the efforts at cease-fires and compromises and whatnot--all it did was prolong the agony. Eventually, Carantina was just wiped out as partition took place in Beirut, street by bloody street. If we think the battle of Baghdad has been bad so far, it is the first reel of that five-reeler."

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