Regions / Iraq
With the end of major military action in Iraq, U.S. public diplomacy in the Arab and Muslim world has entered a new, more challenging phase.
As many members of Congress and President George W. Bush’s administration argue that it’s unacceptable to leave Iraq as a failed state, it becomes clearer every day that U.S. operations and policies are fueling violence and instability.
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001 it has become a commonplace that religious extremism, particularly of the Muslim kind, lies at the heart of the problems that seemingly condemn the Muslim majority world to political and social backwardness, economic stagnation, and cultural oppressiveness.
Elections are needed, but the timing is wrong, with the insurgency growing with every passing moment and Iraqis bracing themselves for the worst.
As the U.S. occupation of Iraq heads toward its third year, there is a remarkable absence of debate over withdrawal, despite the evidence that a clear majority of the American people want out.
Amid the orgy of self-congratulation over the bravery of Iraqi voters, officials and commentators have ignored the most important story of the election results: a Sunni electoral boycott that demonstrates a level of support for the insurgency in the Sunni triangle that is far greater than what the administration has admitted.
It is now time for the United States to pursue the one policy option that has been missing from the national discussion of Iraq: the negotiation of a peace settlement with the insurgents that would involve the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops in return for the surrender of the insurgents and the reintegration of the Sunni region into the post-Saddam political system.
The Iraq War launched by the Bush administration 24 months ago is draining lives--U.S., Iraqi, and others--and treasure that should be devoted to other human needs.
Had Marla Ruzicka not died, she would be busy visiting survivors of the fifty people found dead in the Tigris River.
This essay is adapted from remarks made at a Capital Hill briefing on Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal sponsored by the Institute for Policy Studies and Foreign Policy In Focus.