Recently, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) summed up President Bush’s lack of strategy for success in Iraq by saying that “staying the course is not a policy.” Now, in an editorial for the Washington Post, retired Gen. Wesley Clark argues against pulling out of Iraq while there is still a chance for success – and offers a brief outline of steps the Bushes could (but won’t) take to turn the crisis there around.
In particular, Gen. Clark excoriates the Bush team’s hamfisted excuse for diplomacy in the Middle East and strongly urges them to bring the stakeholders to the table:
Adding a diplomatic track to the strategy is a must. The US should form a standing conference of Iraq’s neighbors, complete with committees dealing with all the regional economic and political issues, including trade, travel, cross-border infrastructure projects, and, of course, cutting off the infiltration of jihadists. Iraq’s neighbors should be asked to assist. This will also provide a better opportunity for meaningful back-door discussions of Iran’s nuclear program, Syria’s interests in Lebanon, and Turkish interaction with the Kurds in Iraq. The US should tone down its raw rhetoric for US-style democracy as an answer to all problems and instead listen more carefully to the many voices within the region. A public US declaration forswearing permanent bases in Iraq would also be helpful in engaging both regional and Iraqi support at this point.
Wes is blogging at TPM Cafe next week.