Davos Day 2 kicked off officially at 8:45 a.m. -- late enough for the networking breakfasts to be digested -- with a panel entitled "Iraq: United for Stability." Moderated by Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations, the panel included Iraq Vice-President Adil Abd al-Mahdi and former Iraqi president Adnan Pachachi.
The top takeaway was al-Mahdi's embrace of the proposal to hold a regional forum of Iraq's neighbors, including Iran. Without reducing tensions and establishing regional partnerships, al-Mahdi argued, stability will be impossible to achieve. He stressed non-interference in each other's affairs as essential to the success of these partnerships.
The proposal makes room for the participation of interested parties -- which of course is code for the United States. The problem is, America has steadfastly refused to talk with Iran. And without the presence of Iran, a neighborhood forum would be utterly meaningless.
Al-Mahdi also disclosed that a new law ensuring the equitable distribution of oil profits to all factions in Iraq was in "an advanced stage." No one mentioned how shocking is the fact that so long after those purple fingers were raised, this foundation for peace still isn't the law of the land.
During the discussion, Pachachi was asked what would happen if American troops are withdrawn. He suggested that the UN should send a multi-national force. Given how Bush's meager coalition has been made even more meager by so many members withdrawing or reducing their troops, it was easy to share Richard Haass' skepticism that this could happen.
While talking to Haass last night at a reception given by Rick Levin, the President of Yale, I asked him what he thought the Democrats in Congress were actually going to do about Iraq. "They are trying to triangulate," Haass said, "and come up with a proposal between the president's escalation and a specific timetable for troop withdrawal."
Isn't it time to acknowledge that when it comes to Iraq, "triangulation" is the equivalent of Solomon's New Way Forward proposal of splitting the baby?
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