Petraeus: Unrest in Iraq will trouble “several presidents to come”

“Day One” is a multi-part series in which CBS News’ Margaret Brennan speaks with former U.S. government officials on the major foreign policy issues the next president will inherit on the first day of their presidency.


The next president will face countless challenges as soon as he or she takes office. Among the biggest are the fight against ISIS, and unrest in Iraq. CBS News’ Margaret Brennan spoke with retired general and former CIA director David Petraeus about the dangers of Iraq — on day one.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What concerns you the most about Iraq right now?

DAVID PETRAEUS: Iraqi politics. We’ll defeat the Islamic State. That’s going to happen. Its just a question of how long it takes. But it’s Iraqi politics that have to become more inclusive if you’re to cement the gains on the battlefield and to bring the Sunni Arabs back into the fabric of Iraqi society, which is critical to the way forward for that country.

BRENNAN: When the next president takes office, what’s the best-case scenario that he or she will face in Iraq?

PETRAEUS: The best-case scenario would be one in which the Islamic State has been defeated on the battlefield, and it’s terrorist cells have been reduced dramatically, and even the residual guerillas, insurgents, are on the run. Then most importantly that politics in Baghdad have been sufficiently inclusive to that the Sunni Arabs of Iraq once again feel a stake in the success of the new Iraq rather than the its failure.

BRENNAN: What’s the worst-case scenario for the U.S.?

PETRAEUS: The worst-case scenario for the U.S. is if the situation goes seriously south for some reason. And all of a sudden we find ourselves having to really augment our forces, and perhaps even get them more into the actual fighting to forestall the possibility of a collapse of Iraq and perhaps the resumption of the kind of very near civil war that we saw back in 2006. So the full on civil war would be, I think, the worst-case scenario, which could…

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