General David Petraeus believes that the U.S. must talk to all key parties inside Iraq — particularly the most militant groups that have been opposing the U.S.-backed government.
His statements reflect a common sense realism that boggles the mind to some degree because the obvious question is “What has happened over the last four years?!”
America has spent more time identifying who would not talk to than who it could or should. The problem is that four years of inaction on what would otherwise be a sensible course makes the eventual right strategy much more fragile — because so many view the intentions of the U.S. skeptically. And they should given what we have allowed to happen and the tragedies we have worsened in Iraq.
From an ABC News report on Petraeus’s statement:
He said that “any student of history recognizes there is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq, to the insurgency in Iraq.”
“Military action is necessary to help improve security. . .but it is not sufficient,” Petraeus said. “A political resolution of various differences. . .of various senses that people do not have a stake in the successes of Iraq and so forth that is crucial. That is what will determine, in the long run, the success of this effort.
U.S. officials, including Petraeus’ predecessor Gen. George W. Casey Jr., have long expressed the opinion that no military solution to the Iraq crisis was possible without a political agreement among all the ethnic and religious factions including some Sunni insurgents.
However, previous overtures to the insurgents all faltered, apparently because of political opposition within Baghdad or Washington to some of the conditions.
One can blame Washington on the failure for earlier overtures far more than the constituent parties in Iraq. And going a step further, Cheney’s national security team deserves the lion’s share of blame for our current mess — including of course, a couple of the Vice President’s chief spear-carriers — Donald Rumsfeld and Scooter Libby.
— Steve Clemons