Thursday, April 10, 2008

In Their Own Words Part 1: A Growing Consensus for Diplomacy?

Jim Fine
Jim Fine, FCNL
Guest blogger

This week's congressional hearings-with General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice-have produced some remarkable endorsements from both Senate Republicans and Democrats of the inclusive regional diplomacy that we at FCNL have long been advocating to stabilize Iraq and the Middle East. Here are some pertinent excerpts from hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees:

Crocker Attests to a Diplomatic Surge

Ambassador Crocker testified that along with the troop surge a year ago "we also launched a diplomatic surge focused on enhancing U.N. engagement in Iraq, anchoring the International Compact with Iraq, and establishing an expanded neighbors process…"

Senator Chuck Hagel (NE) Asks, 'What Surge?'

"Now, a diplomatic surge, I assume, is somewhat similar to the surge we saw militarily, meaning that you put tens of thousands of more troops on the ground and you did the things you thought you needed to do to surge. But as I read the testimony, Ambassador, it's pretty thin: I don't know if I would equate surge with Turkey hosting the second ministerial meeting of Iraq's neighbors in November…. I don't know if that's a surge.

Support from Arab capitals has not been strong. I don't know how we think we would find any regional diplomatic effort that's going to work if we can't get the regional neighbors to work with us. Syria plays an ambivalent role. Iran continues to undermine the efforts of the Iraqi government. So, where's the surge? What are we doing? I don't see Secretary Rice doing any Kissinger-esque flying around. Where is the diplomatic surge? In my opinion [the diplomatic surge is] the one core issue that in the end is going to make the difference as to the outcome of Iraq and will certainly have an awful lot to do with how we come out of this. So, where is the surge? What are you talking about?"

In Response, Crocker Agrees More Is Needed

"Does there need to be more activity on the part of the region? Clearly, yes. And I noted in my statement the Arabs need to be more engaged. Similarly with Iran. As I noted in my statement, we have taken a position that we are prepared to discuss face-to-face with the Iranians security in Iraq at Iraqi request. The Iraqis have announced that they would like to see another meeting occur. We have said we're ready to participate. It's now up to the Iranians."

More quotes coming soon...


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