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
Opportunity 08 aims to help 2008 presidential candidates and the public focus on critical issues facing the nation, presenting policy ideas on a wide array of domestic and foreign policy questions. The project is committed to providing both independent policy solutions and background material on issues of concern to voters.