Beyond troop withdrawal timetables, benchmarks and stuff like that, lurks an enormous question:What will happen to Iraq and the Middle East after the U.S. withdraws?Answering that question is like trying to figure out where the edge of the universe is, but I'm going to give it a try.What will happen will be enormously wrenching, blood soaked and perhaps catastrophic.Whether the U.S. begins a phased withdrawal from Iraq on Tuesday morning or in 2009 (if The Decider succeeds in dumping the whole mess in his sucessor's lap), Iraq will be left a burned out shell, a humanitarian nightmare with a dysfunctional infrastructure deeply riven by years of post-invasion internecine warfare and ethnic cleansing.Just as the waves from a pebble thrown into a pond radiate outwards in all directions, so will the Orwellian consequences of The Decider's Excellent Adventure in Mesopotamia.The Middle East will be further destabilized. The exodus of refugees into Jordan and Syria will grow. The insurgents, who set up shop when the U.S. occupation came a cropper, will be further emboldened. Iraq may even become the radical Islamic republic that the insurgents and sectarian lunatic fringe so fervently desire.Iraq was the birthplace of civilization.
Maybe it's where it will die.
And all because of the actions of one man.