By Darren Jackson
For a military campaign declared victorious almost since its inception, the war in Iraq has devolved into something quite removed from the current administration’s (and, consequently, the American public’s) expectations for the dictator-less nation. Continued sectarian strife and high American and Iraqi causalities have polarized the nation, in large part causing the dramatic midterm congressional shift toward the Democratic Party as the American people sought answers to the conflict. While any eventual solution in Iraq will be quite complex, it will most likely need to involve a few key strategies.
First, the United States must publicize a troop-reduction timetable as part of an inclusive exit strategy. Military campaigns deal in America’s most precious commodity, the lives of its young men and women, and to throw soldiers into harm’s way without so much as plan to get them out is reckless at best.
Establishing a timetable will help get more of our soldiers home more quickly, will quell some of the anti-American sentiment behind the current wave of violence in Iraq, and will put needed pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki to take control of the country and negotiate truces between the militias competing for power. U.S. troops could also be removed to regional bases in order to maintain a supportive military presence while minimizing the number of U.S. troops on Iraqi streets.
Second, the U.S. must shift the decision-making focus to Maliki and the Iraqi government. Moving toward the sidelines will place Maliki’s government in the spotlight, validating it as more than a U.S. puppet government, and decrease Iraq’s dependency on the U.S. to bail it out.
Finally, the U.S. must engage regional powers in talks aimed at garnering their support for the fledgling
Iraqi government. Regional dominance is shifting away from traditionally U.S.-allied nations, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to nations whose policies have currently been at odds with the United States, like Iran and Syria. The goal here is not appeasement, but rather the establishment of stronger diplomatic connections that can be called upon to aid the negotiation process and to keep the U.S. abreast of regional strategies that could affect Iraq.
By Tim Taylor
What is to be done in Iraq? I approach the question in the same spirit as Fareed Zakaria: “We have to see Iraq as it is now. Not as it once was. Not as it could have been. Not as we hope it will become, but as it is today. There will be ample time to assign blame and debate ‘what ifs.’ The urgent task now is ahead of us.” Thus, the solution to Iraq has not changed with a Democratic Congress in power. Iraq is not a partisan issue, and carping will not solve the nation’s problems.
Above all else, and as they have told us through their protests and their bombs, it is Iraqis who must solve Iraqi problems. Unfortunately, there seems to be few Iraqis left and altogether too many sect-first Sunnis and Shiites. First and foremost, the American coalition must subsume the warring factions under a stronger Iraqi government, one that is both capable and willing to deal devastating damage to Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias alike. For too long the U.S. has tiptoed its way around the Iraqi government, allowing it to include warlords like Moqtada al-Sadr, hoping that legitimating such beasts would moderate their actions and fearing that their exclusion would cause unrest. Quite the opposite has been the case, as vicious fiefs play both sides and blur the lines between thug and statesman. Until Baghdad is cleaned out and it becomes clear that the Iraqi government is the good guys, the fighting will worsen. Ironically, Iraq is a mess not because of the Bush doctrine, but because of deviation from it. President Bush’s famous statement still holds true: “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make.
Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Iraq is both, so long as sectarian killers slaughter civilians, and so long as Iraq’s government is unwilling to stop them. Thus, there must be a crackdown of hellish proportions against both Sunni and Shiite terrorists and their friends within the government. The supremacy of Iraq, the nation, must win out over the barbarians that threaten to