Aug 29 2007
It is a pleasure to read someone who is objective, balanced and innovative when assessing our situation in Iraq. Even more so when the person has a good idea to add to the debate:
Gen. David H. Petraeus’ military surge is working, but it’s meeting only one of its two primary goals: to provide security. The increased security was supposed to give Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki the time he needed to establish political stability.
That hasn’t happened. Iraq’s national government is weaker now than when the military surge began.
N ANBAR PROVINCE, FOR EXAMPLE, Sunni leaders joined with coalition forces and the Shia-dominated Iraqi Security Force to drive out al-Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent forces that, last year, ruled the province with an iron fist.
Similar success is taking hold in Diyala province. When al-Qaeda was routed in Anbar, many terrorists fled to Diyala. Fearful of Taliban-like rule when al-Qaeda in Iraq inhabited Anbar, more than 80 tribal leaders in Diyala — some of whom have feuded for decades — signed an American-brokered agreement to defend their province.
These provincial political gains prove Iraqi reconciliation is possible. The trick is to transform local cooperation into national governance.
Instead of criticizing the Iraqis for a failure of political unity, we should begin to build it by sponsoring talks among national Shia, Kurdish and Sunni leaders.
Spare me the cries about interventionism. The U.S. is constantly urged to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. The much-heralded Iraq Study Group was praised for calling on the Bush administration to engage in directs talks with Syria and Iran as part of a regional initiative to stabilize Iraq.
How about having Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice engage in direct talks with the people who have much more insight and much more at stake than the Syrians and Iranians: the Iraqis themselves.
The fact is the surge has turned the tide in Iraq so that now these kinds of actions have an opportunity to be explored, and have a good chance to bear positive results. Read the whole thing – especially the slams on those people who have less than impressive ideas on Iraq (Clinton, Levin, Warner).