THE BLOG

As Petraeus Blames Iran, Gilchrest and Murtha Call for Diplomatic "Surge"

04/09/2008 08:06 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

To no one's surprise, in their Congressional testimony Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus blamed Iran for violence in Iraq, and cited Iran as the latest reason why we can't withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq until some indefinite time in the future, based on some unspecified criteria of undefined success. Of course, it was Iran, not the Bush administration, that brokered the recent cease-fire in Basra, but that doesn't fit the administration's script.

But while the Bush administration continues to beat the drums of conflict with Iran, a bipartisan group of House Members has a different idea: implement the unanimous, bipartisan recommendations of the Congressionally-appointed Iraq Study Group, and engage in serious regional diplomacy -- including Iran and Syria -- to help achieve political resolution to Iraq's conflicts, and to help the US get out.

Republican Wayne Gilchrest, co-chair of the Congressional Dialogue Caucus, is the sponsor of H. Con. Res. 321, which calls for serious regional diplomacy. Co-sponsors include Reps. Meeks (co-chair of the Dialogue Caucus), Murtha, Jones of North Carolina, Shays, Moran, English, Kaptur, Baldwin, Reyes, Cummings, and Johnson of Illinois.

The resolution, promoted by the Friends Committee on National Legislation, presses the administration:

...jointly with Iraq, the United Nations, and regional organizations, to expeditiously engage in bilateral and multilateral talks and conferences with Iraq's neighboring countries, and specifically ... recommends the implementation of the International Compact for Iraq and recommendations 9 and 13 of the Iraq Study Group Report, including ... implementing recommendation 9, which states, 'Under the aegis of the New Diplomatic Offensive and the Support Group, the United States should engage directly with Iran and Syria in order to try to obtain their commitment to constructive policies toward Iraq and other regional issues. In engaging with Syria and Iran, the United States should consider incentives, as well as disincentives, in seeking constructive results'.

If this new, bipartisan push for real diplomacy with Iran and Syria gains support, it would put significant pressure on the administration to curtail its policy of confrontation with Iran and pursue real diplomacy.

As Stephen Kinzer argues in the Guardian, talking to Iran could be the ruby slippers to get us home to Kansas. Ask your Representative to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Gilchrest resolution.

(The six minute video from Kinzer's 22-city tour promoting diplomacy with Iran, which has been viewed more than 140,000 times on YouTube, can be seen here.)