October 31, 2005

REBALANCING ACT:

The Last Word: Zalmay Khalilzad: 'Our Goal Is Not To Rule Iraq' (Michael Hirsh, 11/07/05, Newsweek)

Could you talk about which Sunni insurgent groups you are hopeful about winning away?

My philosophy is that we need to isolate two groups from the rest. The first is [Abu Musab] Zarqawi and the jihadists, some foreign and some Iraqis. And the second is the Saddamists, those who want Saddamism to come back. As far as the rest are concerned, our effort has been to win them away. I have been very active with Sunni Arabs, reaching out to them.

On the tribal level?

Across the board. Tribes, yes. Nontribal political leaders, yes. Academics, professionals, yes. Some former government officials who were not criminals, yes. You name it.

What particular successes can you point to?

One is we've got some key Sunnis supporting the Constitution. Second, many more are supporting the political process. Now we have some tribes coming forward, like the Albu Mahal, that are saying they will fight against Zarqawi. So what's happening for maybe the first time since the liberation is a real struggle going on in the Sunni community between those who want to participate in the process and those who want a protracted insurgency.

Some observers say your strategy is exactly right—the only problem is that you're at least a year too late in coming in.

Well, I don't want to look back. But it's very important in my view to engage politically. And to communicate our goals. Our goal is not to rule Iraq. Our goal is not to have permanent bases in Iraq. Our goal is not to take over Iraqi oil or other Iraqi patrimony... It's very important that there is a balance between our various instruments—military, political, diplomatic, economic, cultural. If you have a hammer, pretty soon everything looks like a nail. I believe if I could say one thing, we're rebalancing the instruments.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 31, 2005 4:30 PM
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