Essentially, Mr. Pascual and Mr. Diamond reiterate the Iraq Study Group’s maxim that the United States cannot resolve the war with military force and that diplomacy is essential. They too propose a multilateral peace process, under the auspices of the United Nations, leading to a “Dayton-style” conference that would result in a comprehensive settlement involving all the warring parties in Iraq.
Among those invited to the bargaining table would be “those elements of the Sunni insurgency who are consequential and willing to talk.” The features of such an accord would include sharing of oil revenues, regional autonomy, political inclusion of some former Baathists, amnesty for most insurgents and the disarmament of Shia and Sunni militia forces.
But the two scholars take those plans an inevitable step further.
“Once the roundtable negotiations begin, it should be made clear to the parties that failure to achieve a peace agreement would trigger a comprehensive and agonizing reappraisal of U.S. engagement in Iraq.”
If the proposed negotiations implode (or never begin), they write, then the U.S. should redeploy all its forces out of Iraq and into friendly neighboring states in order to contain the regional consequences of Iraq’s civil war.
And if the Bush administration refuses to consider this?
In that case, Congress should use its budgetary powers to set a September 2008 deadline, demonstrating “the seriousness of American resolve to use its military presence to create the conditions for a political settlement, while making it unambiguously clear that the United States will not continue to deploy forces if Iraqis do not take advantage of a credible international diplomatic initiative to help broker peace.” It isn’t the plan that Democrats want, but it may encourage Republicans to begin retreating from the disaster they have created.
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