The following talking points are the basis of two media appearances by Raymond Tanter on 18 June 2013: BBC World Service Newsday, Radio, 2205 EDT and World Service TV, 2215 EDT
Thanks to Michael Eisenstadt for insights on which some of these bullets are based.
First, stop the loose talk about meeting with Iran to discuss the situation in Iraq.
Turning to Tehran to help stabilize Iraq would be like asking an arsonist to help put out the fire.
So the road to stabilizing Baghdad does not run through Tehran.
The road to Baghdad runs through a coalition of moderates in the region and in Iraq.
Second, the road to Baghdad passes through Damascus via moderate Arab rebels.
The White House has debated whether to train and equip the moderate opposition in Syria long enough. Now is the time to do so. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has an important presence is in eastern Syria. It is critical to threaten it there: The regime in Damascus seems to have a quiet understanding to refrain from attacking ISIS so long as it is fighting moderate rebel forces.
As Washington reaches out to moderate Syrian rebels with arms, the United States also needs to send a signal to Tehran that Washington is paying attention to Iranian dissidents. In this respect, the road to Tehran may go through an alignment of moderate Arab rebels and Iranian dissidents.
Third, make U.S. arms and airstrikes conditional on an inclusive political coalition.
Build an alliance with Kurds and Sunnis opposed to ISIS. The goal would be to recreate the coalition of moderates that defeated al Qaeda in Iraq in 2007. Because Prime Minister Maliki is unlikely to concur, quietly work with other politicians to create a majority able to select a new prime minister that reaches to minorities.
Condition expedited delivery of U.S. arms on whether there is a cross-sectarian strategy of inclusion of Sunnis and Kurds.
Continue refraining from launching American airstrikes until a political coalition of moderates is in place in Baghdad, preferably without Maliki.