(1st Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich Jr. — died in Iraq in line of duty — 13 May 2007)
Last week, I was in attendance at the “conference launch” of the Center for a New America Security when anti-Iraq War scholar Andrew Bacevich was present at and acknowledged the creation of a new CNAS Bacevich fellowship in honor of his son, Andrew J. Bacevich Jr., who was recently killed in the line of military duty in Iraq. (I wrote a piece in tribute to his son the night the Department of Defense announced his death.)
After that, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) gave a speech that very much outlined what he published in the Financial Times today. One can watch the Bacevich tribute and Hagel speech at this video link — or read Hagel’s oped here.
But essentially, Senator Hagel is calling for the American flag to be removed from the scene in Iraq and continues to hammer on the “false choice” that too many are making between the deal-making we must do in the Middle East with Arab nations on one hand and Israel’s security needs on the other.
I completely agree with Hagel who wrote:
American military power will not be the solution. The time for more troops is past. We must begin planning for a phased withdrawal and redeployment of US troops from Iraq. The only sustainable way forward is to achieve Iraqi political accommodation that will begin to move the country towards political reconciliation. However, Iraqis by themselves appear incapable of achieving political progress. They have had more than four years to find a political consensus. It continues to evade them, increasing the violence and danger in the Middle East.
We need strategic direction for Iraq that moves to “internationalise” our efforts to help the Iraqis achieve a core of political stability. As the Baker-Hamilton report concluded, Iraqi political accommodation can be achieved only within a constructive regional framework supported by the international community. The US must refocus its policy, leadership and resources on directly helping the Iraqis to establish an inclusive political framework to begin to defuse the violence.
An international mediator, under the auspices of the UN Security Council and with the full support of the Iraqi government, should be established. The mediator should have the authority of the international community to engage Iraq’s political, religious, ethnic and tribal leaders in an inclusive political process. In letters last month to President George W. Bush and the UN secretary-general I urged them urgently to consider this initiative.
Special envoys have been instrumental in helping bring political reconciliation to other recent conflicts — Afghanistan, Kosovo, East Timor, Northern Ireland — adapted to the conditions in each country. Iraq needs the interÃ‚Ânational community’s help and support if it is to turn away from sectarian violence. If there is Iraqi resistance, we should be clear with all Iraq’s leaders that this initiative is a condition of continued US support.
I think Iraq is going to be a long term problem, and that ‘some dimensions’ of the Iraq conflict are beginning to bear some similarity to the Israel-Palestine standoff.
In fact, Israel-Palestine today looks more solvable even though the Palestinian government is divided in territory and government than Iraq appears.
— Steve Clemons