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20 December 2006


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1- Grand Bargain with Iran - US offers to see Iran as equal to the Sunnis. What does that mean specifically? There has to be a tangible benefit to Iran that is better than Iran's status quo to get it to go along with anything. Unfortunately for the US, Iran's status quo looks good right now.

2- Bargain with Kurds, Turkey and US. Kurds get homeland with US support but they have to root out the PKK. Most of Kurdistan is in Turkey. No Kurdish government with even a facade of democracy can really fight against the PKK. The US keeps troops in Kurdistan to enforce this. Iran needs to be compensated for US bases in Kurdistan or it will veto it. I guess the oil is compensation for Turkey but is it enough? Kurdistan seriously may be the issue that ends Turkey as a state.

3- Syria agrees to not interfere at all in Lebanese politics. What if the Shiites want Syria to be involved? If the choice is Syria or the West, today most Lebanese choose Syria. A poll recently asked Lebanese to name the two most threatening states. Israel came in first, among every single ethnic group, even the supposedly pro-Western ones. The US beat Syria 60% to 25% or so. If Lebanese act on their own accord in a pro-Syrian way, how would you know the difference between that and Syrian influence?

4- Israel must be included in everything, in exchange Israel works for prosperous Palestinian state. Either the refugees will never return and Israel wins, or they will return and the Arabs win. The US likes to make an Israeli victory a precondition for negotation. No negotiation with that precondition can start. The prosperous Palestinian state would be able to afford better weapons to pressure Israel to accept the refugees. At some point, giving up Israel's Jewish character will come on the table.

5- The US splits the Sunnis and only fights the bad ones. Very difficult because good Sunnis trust bad Sunnis more than they trust the US. If Israel wasn't enough to ensure that, which it is, Fallujah I was much more than enough and Fallujah II means there is nothing more to say.

6- Scale back of US forces outside of Kurdistan. The Shiites tolerate a US presence for the express purpose of fighting Sunnis. If you don't want to fight Sunnis, you have to go home.

The United States is not in good shape in teh Middle East. There is no way to make defeat look like victory. The US has to be willing to do things that it would not have been willing to do had it won. The United States would have worked for an independent Kurdistan with US bases if it had won. It would have worked for Israel to be recognized and an active part of the region if it had won. The defeat will not be salvaged at a negotiating table. The negotiating table will discuss terms for the US defeat.

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