Kouchner in Iraq

According to this Le Figaro account of Bernard Kouchner’s surprise weekend visit to Iraq, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has begun referring to the current economic, political and security conditions as a “Baghdad spring.” There’s still some background signal noise, as well as both uncertain and contradictory data points, but as Andrew Sullivan rightly points out here, conditions on the ground have changed the political calculus in Washington. Kouchner’s visit and Le Monde’s claim that France will use its EU presidency to push for increased European involvement in Iraq suggest a line that should begin to get more attention, namely the involvement in the political and economic aspects of the nation-building project in Iraq of allies who were either hostile to or disillusioned by the war. And France under Sarkozy makes a logical candidate for running point on that kind of initiative.

Using the security gains to broaden the international effort to stabilize Iraq is an angle that’s been ignored in the binary discourse of the American war debate. For Obama especially, it would be an effective pivot from his current policy which, although flexibly vague, can be attacked for using a justified, but perhaps outdated, pessimism as its guiding logic. It has the benefit of addressing a real need without pandering or necessarily contradicting his previous stance.

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