Speaking today to the Defense Writers Group, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, the commander of the US 7th Army said he believes it is too early to tell whether the multi-year occupation of Iraq “created an ally” in the new Iraqi government.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen in Iraq,” Hertling said, “I’m hopeful for increasing positive signs.” He went on to complain that America is “not feeling particularly appreciated” for the eight year occupation of Iraq, which killed hundreds of thousands of people by even modest estimates.
Iraq’s current government is nominally an ally with the US, if only to the extent it can parlay that alliance into weapons purchases. Yet the US never really managed to install an exclusively pro-US regime in the country, because the leadership of Iraq’s Shi’ite majority was never nearly as on board with the occupation as officials figured they would be.
Rather Shi’ite-dominated Iraq’s natural ally in the region is Iran, and with the US constantly threatening to attack Iran, the US-Iraqi alliance is always under some stress. Coupled with resentment at the massive death tolls of the US invasion and the public griping of US leaders about ingratitude, the US-Iraqi alliance may be a difficult one to sustain in the long term.