"Strategic Reset" explicitly endorses the Bush administration's strategy of putting "more emphasis on provincial and local leadership, rather than working primarily with the national government." But President Bush doesn't intend that approach to substitute for the Baghdad political process, as CAP does. Although there's widespread recognition that Iraqi security forces are either incompetent or sectarian and the Iraqi political process is mired in a sectarian morass, few proposals exist for circumventing both. It's fair to say that both of CAP's major offerings are ahead of the U.S. political consensus.
In a post-surge world, CAP sees "full redeployment" of U.S. troops from Iraq as possible by September 2008, to be accomplished by not replacing units as they complete their existing tours. The think tank no longer calls a 1,000-troop force to focus on counterterrorism, but writes that a "small and temporary residual force" of between eight and ten thousand troops should be stationed in Iraqi Kurdistan to tamp down Kurdish-Turkish hostilities, with the"goal" of withdrawing those forces in 2009. On the counterterrorism question, from CAP's perspective, the mission should be able to end in relatively short order -- the report says Marine and Army Special Forces units should remain fighting al-Qaeda until fall 2008 -- as an absence of U.S. troops will accelerate recent Sunni tribal shifts against al-Qaeda: "Today Iraq is a quagmire for the United States; leaving Iraq will make it al-Qaeda's quagmire." Should U.S. assistance be necessary against al-Qaeda, CAP believes it can come from Turkey or Kuwait -- endorsing air strikes on al-Qaeda leaders, a counterinsurgency strategy historically proven to be dubious.
There are some important points of vagueness here. For instance, CAP wants to restrict U.S. assistance to the Iraqi security forces unless Washington can extract some promise of non-sectarianism from the Baghdad security apparatus, yet those Iraqi leaders are part of the same political consensus that CAP considers beyond the prospect of sectarian compromise. Nor does CAP explain why moving U.S. forces into Iraqi Kurdistan wouldn't import insurgent and terrorist violence into a now-stable area. Still, if "Strategic Redeployment" is any guide, look for "Strategic Reset" to become a major contributor to the Democratic line on Iraq.