Send the Mediators?

Writing in the Washington Post, Carlos Pascual, formerly of head of the interagency office of reconstruction and stabilization at the State Department and now a vice president at Brookings, sketches out the possible role of the United Nations in brokering a political settlement to Iraq’s civil war.

The March 10 international conference seeking peace in Iraq should be applauded. If those with a stake in Iraq are talking, they might at least find common rhetorical ground in their opposition to terrorism. But dialogue does not mean peace. Focused international mediation, ideally by the United Nations, will be needed for peace and stability.


[I]f the parties to the conference want a serious chance for peace in Iraq and stability in the region, they need an honest broker to help them turn contentious issues into meaningful options. The United Nations is not magical, but there is no other actor with comparable neutrality. In Iraq, U.N. special adviser Lakhdar Brahimi brokered agreement on the interim government in spring 2004 when the United States could not.