Iraq- Time to Talk?
Last night, Mark said after the programme, we should have given much more time to Iraq. Certainly our Iraqi guests left saying they wished they'd had more time... and it seems you did too. Not just that, but today, the speculation around the policy paper by James Baker and the Iraq Study Group is building. Including the suggestion that the solution lies with involving Iraq's neighbors, Iran & Syria, (yes, the same countries named as part of Bush's 'Axis of Evil.') As David said at our meeting this morning: Nixon talked to Mao, Reagan talked to Gorbachev.... is it time for Bush to talk to Ahmedinejad & al-Assad? Read what Iraq's president has to say...
As I write this, Tony Blair is being grilled in Parliament on the growing mess in Iraq. He's holding doggedly to the line that leaving early would be disastrous. Meanwhile, the chorus of voices against the British and American policy in Iraq is growing and growing some more. Today's headline in the Guardian "Iraq war cost years of progress in Afghanistan". A British commander is quoted echoing criticism of the government's foreign policy. Today's Times of London reports that 3,000 Iraqi police have been sacked for killing and corruption. James Hilder in Baghdad writes:
"In their US-protected fortress, Iraq's Government huddles, riven by sectarian splits and cut off from its terrified people. Inside their bubble ministers live in comparatively luxurious compounds, each sectarian bloc divided from the next by barricades. They are hard to reach by telephone. Some spend more time outside the country than in it."
You can point fingers forever about why this has come to pass, but more important, what's the way forward? Do Syria, Iran and other neighbors have a positive role to play in helping Iraq stabilize? Should the goal of democracy be dropped? How can violence be better policed? Is there a political solution to the insurgency? Should foreign troops leave, but maybe to a nearby country? Or just leave full stop? And what about the hundreds of thousands of skilled, secular Iraqis who've fled to Jordan, Syria or the west? Can they and should they go back? As always, post comments below. Or tune in at 1800 GMT. If you want to join us on air-- use the email, text and phone numbers to the right.