MELTDOWN UPDATE….An American withdrawal from Iraq might lead to a more intense civil war within Iraq itself, but would it also lead to a massive regional meltdown of the kind that war supporters so often warn of? In testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations last week, Gregory Gause of the University of Vermont spelled out why this is unlikely:

The Iranians already have what they want in Iraq — substantial influence both with the Baghdad government and with major actors in border regions to the south and the north. The Turks do not want to occupy Iraqi Kurdistan or annex it. The Saudi army is hardly capable of serious cross-border operations. Foreigners will play in Iraqi politics as long as Iraq is weak and Iraqi parties seek foreign support. They are doing it now, with the American military there. They will continue to do it. But they do not appear to have the desire (in some cases, like Turkey and Iran) or the means (Saudi Arabia) to intervene in a direct, sustained military way that could lead to a wider regional war.

The whole thing is a worth read. Via Judah Grunstein, who also notes the bad news that the Anbar Awakening, by giving Saudi Arabia cover for supporting Sunni groups in Iraq, might actually make a larger regional war slightly more likely.