The United States finally sat down with Iran and Syria in Baghdad on Saturday, a departure from past policy that appears to have changed almost nothing. Nevertheless, yesterday an Iranian spokesman called it a "constructive first step" and said it was looking forward to another meeting at the foreign minister level. Meantime, on his trip to South America, President Bush announced a call to Congress for 8200 new troops--4800 to bolster the Baghdad security plan. The Los Angeles Times reports that Pentagon planners have begun "plotting a fall back strategy that includes a gradual withdrawal of forces and renewed emphasis on training Iraqi fighters." Was it the first step in a long process or a dead end? What did other nations from around the region have to contribute? We speak with journalists in the US and Middle East, political scientists, the last senior US diplomat to speak one-on-one with Iranian officials in 2001 and the current senior Iraq advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
More Troops? More Diplomacy? Both?
Julian Barnes - Wall Street Journal - @julianbarnes, James Dobbins - RAND Corp - @Jim_Dobbins, David Satterfield - Senior Advisor on Iraq, Secretary of State Rice, Rami Khouri - syndicated columnist, senior fellow at the Belfer Center and professor of public policy at the American University of Beirut - @RamiKhouri