“The Third Option in Iraq: A Responsible Exit Strategy”

August 24, 2005



"The Third Option in Iraq: A Responsible Exit Strategy"

The first detailed plan for a negotiated exit from Iraq, to be published in the September issue of Middle East Policy, offers a U.S. strategy for bringing representatives of warring Sunni and Shiite factions together to forge a comprehensive peace settlement.

The article-the first to offer a clear alternative to the options of indefinite military presence and unilateral withdrawal-calls for the United States to use its leverage on the Shiite-dominated government of Iraq to press for serious peace talks with leaders of the Sunni insurgency. The negotiations would be aimed at halting the present spiral of sectarian violence, achieving conditions for Sunni reentry into the Iraqi political system, and establishing a timetable for withdrawal of American and other occupation forces.

The author, Gareth Porter, is a diplomatic historian who has published analyses of efforts to negotiate conflicts in Vietnam, Cambodia, The Philippines and Korea. His latest book is Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, published in June.

Dr. Porter details evidence that some key insurgent leaders are interested in a political settlement. He suggests that peace talks focus on issues that have not been dealt with in the negotiations on an Iraqi constitution, including guarantees for minority rights on the most politically sensitive issues and a mechanism for bringing sectarian paramilitary units under joint

Sunni-Shiite control. If Shiite leaders refuse such negotiations, Dr.

Porter writes, the United States should seek to negotiate its own arrangements for a military settlement, including a more rapid timetable for U.S. withdrawal, with leaders of the Sunni insurgents.

The article can be read on the Middle East Policy Council’s website at



Dr. Porter can be contacted for media interviews at 703-532-0124 or

703-600-9057 (cell).

Anne Joyce


Middle East Policy


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One Response to “The Third Option in Iraq: A Responsible Exit Strategy”

  1. Some Guy says:

    That does sound like a meritorious proposal.
    It would require Bush to acknowledge a) that the insurgency is not a monolithic structure of “terrorists” that is indistinguishable from Osama, and b) that negotiating with an enemy is sometimes necessary. I am not sure he is capable of either of those. He would have to admit two pretty serious mistakes (misunderstanding the insurgency and taking a valuable if deeply unpleasant diplomatic option off the table).

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