Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bill Buckley says Bush Needs a new Coalition of the Willing

William F. Buckley, arguably the Father of the Conservative Movement, came out about a year ago questioning Bush’s Iraq policy. In his recent column, Buckley determines that the American role in Iraq is not critical.

Read it here

Further, he writes “A geographical division of Iraq is inevitable. The major players are obvious. It isn't plain how America, as an outside party, could play an effective role, let alone one that was decisive, in that national redefinition. And America would do well to encourage non-American agents to act as brokers — people with names like Ban Ki-moon.”

So now to the bane of the neo-conservatives and others such as Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, the resolution of the Iraq situation may require the United Nations under the leadership of Ban Ki-moon to act as brokers. Buckley’s opinion is not alone. Many in the region, including some Iraqi leaders, believe that outside help may be needed … but not led by the United States. Just this week, Adnan Pachachi, an experienced Iraqi politician and former head of the Iraqi Governing Council, argued that US troops should be replaced by an Arab and Islamic force under UN military control, since the Americans are an occupation force and the Sunni Arab guerrillas will never accept them.

Bush needs a new coalition of the willing.

His old coalition is leaving him.

Domestically, Senators Coleman, Hagel and Brownback are leading the Republican charge away from Bush’s decision to escalation the number of troops in Iraq and the mission of those troops in Iraq.

Internationally, the coaltion is shrinking fast. There are approximately 16,860 non-US troops in Iraq today. Last week, when Bush announced his escalation plan, Britain, in contrast to the United States, said it would not send more troops to Iraq and would press ahead with plans to scale back its presence in the key southern city of Basra. Britain has some 7,100 troops in southern Iraq and will cut troop levels in Iraq by almost 3,000 by the end of May. The South Korea government intends to withdraw 1,100 troops of its 2,300-strong contingent in the relatively peaceful, northern city of Irbil by April. Poland has 900 troops and has a target of withdrawing completely by the end of this year.

Buckley’s point is one that we’ve heard before - the resolution of the Iraq crisis must be through a political solution - yet Bush is pushing the police action of a military solution.

With various countries in the region readying troops to enter Iraq in case of a government collapse, wouldn’t Bush be prudent to engage the UN to create a new coalition of the willing to provide security and negotiate a peaceful political power sharing between the sectarian factions. America has left it to the Iraqi elected politicians to resolve the crisis, but with so many political parties representing the three main ethnic groups, the politicians have failed miserably. Resolving the key issues of distribution of oil revenues, reversal of the de-Bathification process, Shiite death squads, Shiite militias, etc. can lead to a national reconciliation – but the political leadership is so emerged in religious and ethnic concerns that resolution may only occur with the involvement of an outside mediator.

If this works in Iraq, could it be the basis for resolution in Lebanon? Palestine? It may be worth a try.

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