Will the Continued Commitment of U.S.Troops Lead to Peace in Iraq?

This week Opportunity '08 takes a closer look at the battle lines being drawn around the Iraq progress report scheduled to be released in September.

Today President Bush reiterated his support for embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, while expressing frustration at the war's lack of progress and political conditions in Iraq. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, battle lines are already being drawn in anticipation of the Iraq progress report that Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker will issue in September.

Over the last several decades, the United States has seen firsthand the difficulties in rebuilding political and economic institutions in failed states ranging from Bosnia to Haiti to Nicaragua. Iraq is now a failed state ensnared in a civil war.

"Rebuilding the political, economic and bureaucratic institutions of a failed state require time, commitment and a secure environment," say Brookings scholars Carlos Pascual and Kenneth Pollack. "Ending a civil war requires a negotiated settlement among the warring parties. Both will be necessary in Iraq for the change in military tactics and augmented troop strength to create conditions for lasting progress."

In Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, Somalia, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Sudan, the United States learned about the difficulties in attempting to transform centrally controlled states, build market-based democracies and establish the rule of law.

A fundamental calculus in Iraq is whether the continued commitment of American troops with a major diplomatic initiative to achieve a truce among warring parties can lead to a viable peace.