Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Democrats Must Offer A New Blueprint for Iraq

By Scott Ritter, AlterNet. Posted November 15, 2006.


A few excerpts:

"Lastly, we must recognize the role Israel, and America's support of Israel, plays in any policy decision involving the Middle East. As outlined here, the key to any successful American withdrawal from Iraq rests in America's willingness to initiate a new policy direction regarding Iran and Syria. Such a policy move would be strongly opposed by the current Israeli government, and those forces inside the United States supportive of this Israeli government. America must engage in an internal debate and discussion about the proper policy position we as a nation should take regarding the state of Israel. That Israel is a close friend and ally there can be no doubt. That America should be available to protect the legitimate national security interests of Israel, as compatible with international law, again goes without question. But to allow a situation to exist, as it currently does, where Israel can influence, or in some cases, using lobbyist proxies, dictate a given course of policy direction when such policies are not in the national interest of the United States, is unacceptable.

There is a need today for an American policy shift regarding Iraq that seeks not only to bring peace and stability to Iraq, but also normalize America's relations with the entire Middle East. This policy direction should not, and cannot, involve the abandonment of Israel. However, it must be recognized that such a bold new policy regarding Iraq will not be to the liking of those who currently govern in Israel, and their American friends and allies. There is room for debate and discussion on this issue. Indeed, sound policy cannot be achieved without such a debate taking place. But this debate must be held free of the rancor of past debates of this sort, where irresponsible charges of anti-Semitism were thrown about by those unwilling to permit the discussion of any policy position deemed unacceptable to the political right in Israel, or their American allies in the pro-Israeli lobby.

We must accept as a basic premise to any discussion about American-Israeli relations the notion that there are circumstances involving the Middle East in which American interests and Israeli interests diverge, and that America is right in pursuing policies which are best for the national security of the United States, even if Israel disagrees. Any new course of policy direction in Iraq that embraces a rapprochement with Iran and Syria represents a situation in which the possibility of a break with Israel exists. America must have the moral and intellectual courage to accept such a break, because at the end of the day it is what is in the best interests of this country that matters most. Peace in Iraq, and stability in the Middle East is a cause worth embracing, and fighting for, regardless of who might oppose it."

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