You've Got ISG Mail

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A key recommendation of last week's Iraq Study Group report was that the Bush administration should reach out to Iran and Syria to improve the situation in Iraq. The White House has long rejected the notion, but nearly all of the 44 experts who worked on the report supported it. However, two conservative holdouts -- Clifford May, a former Republican National Committee spokesman, and Reuel Marc Gerecht of the American Enterprise Institute -- needed some extra convincing. In a series of e-mails, James Dobbins, a former diplomat and the chief architect of Afghan reconciliation (now at Rand Corp.) made his case. In the end, May was won over but Gerecht was not. A verbatim portion of their private exchanges, obtained by The Washington Post, is below.

-- Dafna Linzer

* * *

From: Cliff May

To: [Expert ISG Working Group]

Date: August 09, 2006 10:33 AM

A serious (i.e. not rhetorical) question:

Would the offer be all carrots?

Or would there be an implicit threat of dire consequences should they interpret American outreach as desperation and refuse to work toward a solution in which they must give something to get something?

(I do understand that, as Larry [Diamond] has pointed out, there would be a benefit in demonstrating to the world that Iran and Syria are not sincerely interested in negotiating a compromise solution. I have only limited faith in the ability of our public diplomacy to drive that message successfully.)

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