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What Africa Can Learn About US From Iraq Study Group Report


A bipartisan group of US experts says the situation in Iraq is "grave and deteriorating" and has recommended major changes in US strategy. The Iraq Study Group's report is calling for the Iraqi government to make substantial progress or face a cut in US support.

The high-level commission also recommends a new diplomatic push in the Middle East, including direct US contacts with Iran and Syria. It also suggests the United States military shift from combat to support operations.

John Stremlau is associate director of peace programs at the Carter Center. From Atlanta, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about how the report may be viewed in Africa.

“I would hope that Africans pay some attention to this report in that it suggests the limits to American power have been reached in Iraq, that the American people are reconsidering the wisdom of the Bush Administration policy or the wrong-headedness of that policy. This debate is only just beginning, but it has implications for Africans concerned about US unilateralism, US tendency to use the military instrument rather than diplomatic instrument. The US being able to partner well with other African countries and with the United Nations, as for example, it has, successfully I might add, in the Congo (DRC),” he says.

On Wednesday, Joseph Kabila was sworn in as president of the DRC. Stremlau was asked if there were some parallels in helping to bring the DRC to elections and issuing the Iraq Study Group report.

He says, “The US should be a much better global citizen. And in the case of the Congo, there was a very interesting, improvised multi-lateral approach to affecting this transition, which was by the way brokered and led by South Africa, which was itself significant. That the US would go along with South Africa’s lead and then find a place for itself with the family of member states of the (UN) Security Council and the neighbors, who worked in this very interesting process…that has culminated now in the inauguration of Joseph Kabila. Now wouldn’t that be the way to solve other problems, not only in Africa, but elsewhere when we can. And that means the US has to learn to partner better with others than to take the unilateral military option as it chose to do in the case of Iraq.”

Is the report a boost for US diplomacy? Stremlau says, “I would hope that it would be seen by the administration as a confirmation that diplomacy has a much longer and important role to play in advancing American

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