June 1, 2006  

To Zalmay Khalilzad

The indefatigable U.S. ambassador to Iraq — and, lest we forget, previously envoy to Afghanistan — for helping engineer a government of “national unity” in Baghdad and the agreement by which Nuri al-Maliki has become prime minister. We have no illusions that this marks the beginning of the end, or even an end to the American beginning in Iraq, but it is a remarkable step toward a different future for the homeland of Saddam Hussein. Almost as significant, Khalilzad represents a step toward a different relationship between diplomats and soldiers; in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the ambassador has proven himself adept at bridging a divide that is naturally too wide and which was made wider by less talented men. If victory in the long war for the Middle East requires the U.S. to mobilize “all elements of national power,” not simply armed force, it will still require statesmen like Khalilzad who understand the nature and the institutions of the military.