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Op-Ed

Ways to Speed An Exit From Iraq

To the Editor:

Re “Ranting at Reality on Iraq” (editorial, April 26):

Any political settlement in Iraq is now a long shot. To have any prospects for success, there must be a strong and neutral broker.

The United States is perceived as too self-interested to play this role. Hence the need for a high-profile United Nations negotiator like the former president of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari, or the United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who brokered the deal for a transitional government in 2004.

For Congress, an effective role would be to call on the Bush administration to engage in a “diplomatic offensive” to get the United Nations to begin such a process. The benchmarks for progress would focus on whether such a process is taking hold, with the Iraqis engaging in good faith.

If there is real progress toward peace, that is reason to sustain a troop presence. If not, that should be the rationale for a radical redeployment to contain the conflict or withdraw. Contingency plans are desperately needed for both scenarios.

Carlos Pascual
Washington, April 30, 2007

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