Over the past several decades, the United States has seen first-hand the difficulties in rebuilding political and economic institutions in failed states ranging from Bosnia to Haiti to Nicaragua. Iraq is now a failed state ensnared in a civil war. The United States must learn from lessons of the past and follow a strategy that attempts to end Iraqi civil war through a negotiated settlement among warring parties and recognizes that rebuilding requires time, commitment and a secure environment.
Core elements of a strategy should include:
- engaging the United Nations to bring together Iraqis and regional actors to seek a political truce to stop the fighting
- get all parties to commit to dismantling Al Qa'eda in Iraq
- sustaining current force levels for up to six months to encourage the warring parties to reach a political agreement
- if a political agreement is reached, working with the UN to mobilize (a) an international force that includes the United States and (b) a massive injection of economic support to help implement the agreement
- if a political agreement fails, refocusing the political dialogue on refugees and the security risks of full scale civil war
- redeploying and scaling down troops in Iraq to 50,000 to 80,000, and another 25,000 regionally, to contain the spillover of war
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