A panel of experts on Iraq testified before a Senate committee Wednesday urging immediate measures to improve the political and security situation in that country.
The analysts at Wednesday's hearing addressed the question of what the United States has to do to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis. Anthony Cordesman, from the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, says part of the reason Iraqis are suspicious of the United States is the U.S. stance toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Mr. Cordesman told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations committee that Arabs view U.S. peace efforts in that conflict as weak and that is hurting efforts in Iraq. "We cannot succeed in Iraq or have a strategy that will function unless we revitalize the peace process," he says. "Steady and visible pressure is needed on both governments [Israel and Palestinians]. That means U.S. pressure on Palestinians to halt terrorism must be matched by equal pressure on Israel to halt the expansion of settlements."
Former chief of the U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Hoar, said the time has come for the NATO alliance to be involved in Iraq. "It is fundamental to broaden the base of support and to give countries that might have joined us an opportunity to assist with troops, to assist politically and perhaps financially as well."
The panelists agreed the United States should support U.N. efforts to appoint the new Iraqi interim government. They suggested those chosen to be a part of it should represent a broad spectrum of Iraqis. They also said that members of the Governing Council who have not played a positive role thus far should be excluded from serving in the new government.
The panelists also reiterated that the new Iraqi government, set to be installed June 30, must play a major role in bringing security to the country. But the United States, according to Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, can assist this. He said American officials should accelerate recruitment and training of the new Iraqi police and armed forces.