The Corner

Some practical advice…

…from Amir Taheri in the Wall Street Journal (sub required). He says this about talking to the Syrians and Iranians:

There is also talk of approaching some of the enemies of the U.S., notably Iran and Syria, in the hope of getting their help in ending the violence in Iraq. Mr. Maliki must demand that Mr. Bush reject such talk. Suspicions that the U.S. might try to hand Iraq over to Iran would incite Iraqi nationalists against the very democratic process he wishes to defend. Mr. Maliki might suggest: Instead of talking to enemies, why not talk to friends? Ask, for example, the “moderate” Arab friends, and some NATO allies, to end their boycott of the new Iraq. Why do they refuse to reactivate their embassies in Baghdad and appoint full ambassadors? Why do they allow their territory to be used for jihadi recruitment, fundraising and deployment to Iraq?

And has these recommendations for the Iraqi government and Bush:

For one, it needs to postpone plans for a federal system that is anathema to Arab Sunnis and regarded with suspicion by secular Shiites, and recognize that it may take years to build an acceptable consensus on that issue. Parliament must freeze the issue of Kirkuk until after the next general election in 2009. It also needs to develop an equitable system of sharing oil revenues. Even if provinces that have no oil get a bigger role for a few years, the price is worth paying to maintain Iraq’s unity.

Mr. Bush should also allow that the disbanding the army of the former regime was a mistake, albeit one done on the advice of the new Iraqi political elite, including Mr. Maliki’s camp. The way to rectify the mistake is to invite all former offices and NCOs, if they wish, to return to service. With stringent screening measures in place, Iraq would be able to keep the undesirable elements out while allowing others a second chance. In the same spirit, parliament must also come up with a more comprehensive amnesty law to cover hundreds of thousands of people whose sole offense was membership in the Baath Party, often forced upon them by circumstances.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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