International Affairs Forum: What steps do you believe that we, the U.S., should be taking to help stabilize Iraq?
Mr. Brian Katulis: When we say ‘we’ we need to start talking about a new administration. It’s clear the pathway the Bush administration has carved out for itself and a new administration, to a certain extent, needs to make a clean break from that pathway for a number of different reasons, largely from the strategy of simply staying the course or continuing with this open ended commitment. One of the first and most important things we need to do is set some sort of horizon that sends signals that U.S. troops are departing and their departure will occur within a reasonable timeframe. That will be a key point for focusing the minds of different Iraqi leaders and leaders of different factions within Iraq to try to address some of the core issues that animate some of the conflicts still going on there. One of the key things the U.S. needs to do—and this is largely because of strategic costs, not only financial but the costs on our military readiness plus the opportunity costs in addressing other challenges—is that we need to begin to implement a responsible phased redeployment and combine that with intensified diplomatic efforts to help jump start Iraq’s political process.
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