We cannot reverse this outcome by more use of military force in Iraq. To try to do so would require siding with Sunni leaders and the Baathist insurgents against pro-Iranian Shiite groups. The Baathist insurgents constitute the forces most strongly opposed to Iraqi cooperation with Iran. At the same time, our democratization policy has installed Shiite majorities and pro-Iranians groups in power in Baghdad, especially in the ministries of interior and defense. Moreover, our counterinsurgency operations are, as unintended (but easily foreseeable) consequences, first, greater Shiite openness to Iranian influence and second, al Qaeda’s entry into Iraq and rooting itself in some elements of Iraqi society.
General Odom also discussed the international implications of the American war in Iraq:
It is a strategic error of monumental proportions to view the war as confined to Iraq. Yet this is the implicit assumption on which the president’s new strategy is based. We have turned it into two wars that vastly exceed the borders of Iraq. First, there is the war against the US occupation that draws both sympathy and material support from other Arab countries. Second, there is the Shiite-Sunni war, a sectarian conflict heretofore sublimated within the Arab world but that now has opened the door to Iranian influence in Iraq. In turn, it foreordains an expanding Iranian-Arab regional conflict.
On April 2, 2008, in a new testimony to the Committee, General Odom again underscored the significance of the U.S. presence in Iraq for al Qua’ida (al Qaeda):
The concern we hear the president and his aides express about a residual base left for al Qaeda if we withdraw is utter nonsense. The Sunnis will soon destroy al Qaeda if we leave Iraq. The Kurds do not allow them in their region, and the Shiites, like the Iranians, detest al Qaeda. To understand why, one need only take note of the al Qaeda public diplomacy campaign over the past year or so on internet blogs. They implore the United States to bomb and invade Iran and destroy this apostate Shiite regime. As an aside, it gives me pause to learn that our vice president and some members of the Senate are aligned with al Qaeda on spreading the war to Iran.