Originally created 11/29/06

The wrong partners in peace



Here's an idea: Why don't police bring peace and stability to a violent neighborhood by calling in the gangs and crooks who are causing all the trouble to negotiate a withdrawal of the police presence?

This makes about as much sense as having the U.S.-led coalition enter into talks with Iran and Syria to stabilize Iraq as coalition forces leave. This is expected to be one of the principal recommendations the Iraq Study Group will make early next month in its exit strategy from Iraq.

The 10-member bipartisan study group headed by former Secretary of State James Baker III and ex-U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., was formed by Congress last March to explore new approaches to the Iraq problem. But now that victory is fading as an option, it seems the group is looking for a way for the United States to cut and run with the loss of as little face as possible.

Hence, why not call on Iran and Syria to help us out? Well, for the same reason police don't call on organized crime to help them out. Iran and Syria are the bad guys in Iraq, helping stir up the insurgency that's building pressure in the United States - as seen in the Nov. 7 election results - to pull out.

Iran and Syria may have an interest in seeing Iraq stabilized, but on their terms, not ours. We want to leave behind a peaceful, democratic pro-Western Iraq. They want an Iraq that's a safe breeding ground for al-Qaida terrorists, Islamic suicide bombers and jihadist training camps. There's no way their interests and ours can dovetail.

If we don't stay and fight for victory, then we may as well turn Iraq over to our enemies and get out. Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki knows the handwriting is on the wall as he meets with President Bush today in Jordan. Bush is expected to tell him the transfer of security to Iraqi government forces must be accelerated.

Al-Maliki will then have to make a choice.

He can strengthen his nascent democratic government by asking U.S. troops to help him take down the powerful anti-American militia headed by firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. This might appease Sunni leaders enough to call off their insurgency and give the al-Maliki government a chance to prove itself.

Choice No. 2: Al-Maliki can continue to appease his fellow Shiites, see the sectarian violence worsen, and the influence of Iran and Syria grow.

There's no way to deal with thugs and not expect the worst. That's why police don't negotiate peace with violent criminals.