The New York Times has three opinions pieces today calling for a reversal in various elements of the Bush administration’s Middle East policy.
1) Barack Obama reaffirms his commitment to pulling out U.S troops from Iraq:
The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.
2) James Rubin argues that the United States should open a diplomatic post in Iran:
America has not sent diplomats to Iran since the 1979 hostage crisis. Washington’s interests are managed by the Swiss government in Tehran. But as in other hostile countries, like Cuba, Washington could set up an interests section in Tehran even while formal diplomatic relations are suspended. Housed in the Swiss Embassy, this post would process visa requests and handle other consular matters.
Such an outpost should not be seen as or used for an intelligence operation. Rather, it would give American diplomats an opportunity to observe the country’s complex politics firsthand. There are no current American foreign service officers who have ever been posted there. Setting up an interests section should help ensure that American policy is not born of ignorance.
3) Roger Cohen explores (online) the Scandinavian view that the Unite States and the West have made a big mistake by shunning engagement with enemies and failing to keep channels open to Hamas and Syria:
Norway’s message to the United States is blunt: the next administration, whether headed by Barack Obama or John McCain, should pronounce the war on terror over. Because it has tended to isolate the United States, polarize the world, inflate the enemy, conflate diverse movements and limit scope for dialogue, its time has passed.