When resistance leaders are given an assurance that the Iraq occupation will end completely, real negotiations can begin
Friday December 7, 2007
"If the gladdest tidings of this pre-Christmas season have been the US intelligence community's brilliant move to undermine a Bush attack on Iran by revealing there is no Iranian nuclear weapons programme, the worst news concerns US policy on Iraq. And it is not just the US announcement of plans to get the Iraqi government to agree to permanent US military bases and an open-ended occupation, thereby confirming what most analysts had long assumed was the Republicans' intention.
More alarming was the Democratic party's reaction and indeed that of the US media. The revelation produced no burst of headlines or commentaries, even though it rides roughshod over most Americans' wishes. A Pew Research poll two weeks ago found 54% wanted the troops home "as soon as possible"......
One day Iraqi resistance leaders will have to be brought into negotiations. They are a legitimate factor in the complex Iraqi equation. National reconciliation which attempts to exclude people who have sacrificed so much in the struggle against foreign occupation has no chance of succeeding. The pre-condition - as happened when the Vietnam war ended - has to be a clear declaration by Washington that it is going altogether, with no bases or "residual forces" left behind. Only then will Iraqis come to the negotiating table seriously, and work out a future that does not leave an elephant in the room."
· Jonathan Steele's new book, Defeat: Why They Lost Iraq, is published next month.