Pushing for a political solution in Iraq
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman presumptive Carl Levin of Michigan asserted today that the U. S. should begin its withdrawal of troops from Iraq in four to six months:
“As a matter of fact, we need to begin a phased redeployment of forces from Iraq in four to six months,” Levin said.
Levin, joined by Senator Joe Biden, presumed to return to his role as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the United States should put pressure on the Iraqi government for a political solution to the turmoil there.
“There is only a political solution in Iraq,” Levin said. “We’ve got to put pressure on them to do what only the Iraqi leaders can do, that is to work out a political solution.”
Senator Levin’s assumptions in this conclusion would seem to be that the insurgency in Iraq can be ended quickly by negotiations if only the Iraqi government had the will to do so and that the presence of U. S. troops there is a barrier to their having the will.
Things certainly would be much, much simpler if that’s the case. We remove our troops, the Iraqis negotiate a settlement, and the situation there will be resolved. I’d certainly welcome affirmative evidence that’s the case.
Contrariwise, I think that the Iraqi insurgency is complex, some of its components are amenable to negotations, some aren’t, the Iraqi government does not have the forces at its disposable at this time to deal with the components that aren’t, and that the Iraqi government as it’s presently constituted—creatures of the militias—is structurally incapable of entering into negotations which would bring an end to the power of the militias. So long as the militias are armed and active, the violence will continue.
I don’t mean by this to belittle Senator Levin’s position. But, as Robert Kagan noted recently, all of the alternatives in dealing with Iraq at this point are gambles, we will continue to have vital interests in the region whether we remove our forces from Iraq or not, and, if we withdraw our forces there, we will have thrown away our most significant leverage in managing the outcome.
Cross-posted at The Glittering Eye.