By Rebecca Shabad - 06/17/14 07:39 AM EDT
Secretary of State John Kerry “should be on a plane right now for Baghdad,” former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said Tuesday.
“The focus has been on the conflict, that is indeed serious, but, you know, diplomacy is what is crucial right now,” Crocker said on “CBS This Morning.” "We need to work with the Iraqis at the highest level,” which, he said, entails having Kerry urge Iraq’s leaders to pursue a national unity government.
Kerry is currently in Washington.
The Obama administration should have had more high-level diplomatic engagement with Iraq, he argued Tuesday, and emphasized the U.S. must now respond with urgency.
“We are hard-wired into their political system. We helped create it. We can’t walk away from it,” Crocker said.
“I would have preferred since 2011 to see us more deeply and intensively engaged at the highest levels of government. I don’t think it’s too late, but we better move now.
Crocker defended the administration’s decision to hold discussions with Iran over Iraq on Monday, explaining that the U.S. did the same thing in Afghanistan before and after the fall of the Taliban.
“So, it’s something we can do. But both of us need to be careful,” he said. “It’s good we’re talking. We just have to be careful, and they’re going to be cautious too.”