There is a story on the AP wire quoting Gen. Ray Odierno instructing his commanders in Iraq to contact insurgent groups in search of possible cease-fires in the sectarian war.

This is profoundly important and represents the single best hope for a positive outcome in Iraq.

The idea would be to seek an all-Iraqi cease-fire and a political solution that ends the carnage among Iraqis and unifies everyone to achieve a military victory against the al Qaeda terrorists.

I proposed this strategy in an op-ed in The Hill under the title "How To Win the Iraq War" and discussed it further in a Pundits Blog entry here suggesting former Secretary of State Colin Powell be sent to Iraq on a special mission promoting a cease-fire and political solution.

This is a long and hard road, for sure, but it represents the best strategy, by far, for a positive outcome in Iraq. When I worked for the congressional leadership during the Reagan years I was involved in very similar Situations, and while hard, it can work here.

South Africa, Ireland, Central America and Lebanon in the 1980s were all resolved by political solutions and cease-fires. It will be Hard, but it can be done. The U.S. should put the full force and power of our country behind the push for a cease-fire.

Gen. David Petraeus has a long history of being subtle and committed to political and diplomatic solutions, and it is major news that private talks have begun.