This article refers in large part to the report presented to Congress by the Iraq Study Group last December.
The report, prepared by a committee of elder statesmen, Middle East experts and retired intelligence analysts, warned that there was no military solution to the conflict and that a US defeat in Iraq could lead to a broader regional war, a drop in global oil production and a loss of public support for future military deployments in defence of America's global interests.
Crucially, it noted that all the key issues in the Middle East — Iraq, Iran, terrorism and the Arab-Israeli conflict — were inextricably linked and that America would not be able to achieve its goals in the region unless it dealt with the Arab-Israeli conflict.
To stabilise Iraq and defeat al-Qaeda, the study group recommended that the US co-operate with Iran and Syria in stabilising Iraq, promote national reconciliation by engaging with all parties to the conflict except al-Qaeda and renew its commitment to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.
The elements of the peace, the study group stipulated, must be a US security guarantee for Israel, the return of the Golan Heights to Syria, support for a Palestinian unity government and a two-state resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict based on UN Security Council resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories.
Regrettably, Bush rejected the report's recommendations.