Friday, November 24, 2006
Tom Hayden Reports and I decide...
I sincerely hope and pray that outcome is able to be reached. If we can have peace in Iraq by negotiating with the insurgents, that would be absolutely wonderful. I say this in all seriousness. I also believe that Haydens reporting of this is top notch work and a valuable read for anyone interested following events in Iraq.
I fear however that if things go as detailed by Hayden that we will merely be subsituting the violence filled scenario we now find ourselves embroiled in with an even more violent scenario.
Basically Hayden describes how the Sunni insurgents are laying out proposals that have been offered since 2005. The reason these proposals are getting a hearing now is because the mid term election showed the administration that a change had to be made. Neoconservatism is on the outs and realism is making a surprise comeback. So what is the problem I am so worried about?
We are talking with the Sunni insurgents. Ought not these talks be inclusive of Shiite and Kurdish factions as well? The laundry list detailed by Hayden depicts a wishlist addressing Sunni concerns, but many are at the expense of the current faction with most of the political if not real power in Iraq. Let us consider some of the proposals in question.
Multinational Force [MNF-I] activities aimed at controlling militias to be expanded.The difficulty in this proposal ought to be clear. There is a reason al-Maliki has been reluctant to take care of these militias. By and large they are Shiite, and as long as Iraq remains a democracy the will of the Shiite will normally carry any political issue. One of the reasons al-Sadr is trying to stop al-Maliki from meeting with President Bush next week is because Bush isn't liable to be proposing options that are palatable for the Shiite. In essence when the Sunni start proposing that the MNF take a predominant role in suppressing militias, they are requesting our assistance in their side of the civil war.
The US-controlled Multi-National Force [MNF-I] would be redeployed to control the eastern border with Iran.Again, a proposal which can only be seen as a Sunni attempt to try to weaken their Shiite opponents. Iranian influence on Iraq is nearly entirely on behalf of the Shiite dominated south. It might be a grand idea to thwart this, but lets make no mistake as we proceed to do so that this is not a friendly gesture to the Iraqi Shiite.
Many of these proposals are imminently sensable and should be carried forth not as part of a platform of peace, but because the proposal is the right thing to do. Of course America ought to stop the torturing of Sunni's under Iraqi government control. All the torture ought to stop, not just of Sunni but everyone else currently under arrest. This should not be a negotiating point and the fact that it is is an ugly mark against our occupation of Iraq.
So here is what I would like to see happen. If we are talking to the Sunni insurgents we ought to announce it. And we ought to invite al-Sadr to the table as well. Invite all the parties who are interested in the final outcome to the table. Make this effort along with a high profile attempt to bring resolution to the Palistinean/Israeli conflict and we just might start down the path to stability in the Middle East.
If the solution with the Sunni insurgents involves U.S. arms being employed to quell Iraqi Shiite ambition I'm afraid we are in for much worse to come. (How worse is possible is nearly unimaginable I'm aware, but it is) So far most American casualties have come at the hands of those we are currently negotiating with, with due respect to Cindy Sheehan whose son was killed fighting Shiite militia. All the hot air about Iranian arms funding the insurgency is hokum. The British pulled their forces to the Iranian border several months ago and while the rate of attacks against their forces dropped dramatically, they have no evidence to back U.S. claims of Iranian subterfuge. So we might want to insure the Iranian involvement stays at a minimum, but if we make a show of this without getting the Shiite to play along we will be provoking a needless fight.
From the American perspective, I believe getting into an armed conflict with the Shiite majority in Iraq would be a true disaster. Even if we succeed, what was the point of the entire endeavor? To go replace one oppressive Sunni dictator with another at the cost of thousands of American lives, and billions if not trillions of dollars? Not acceptable!
We need to bring everybody to the table, not just the people we aren't getting along with now. To accept a one sided resolution to the conflict most likely would not bring resolution in any case.
When people talk about disarming the Mehdi army they usually fail to recognize that what the Shi'a militias have been doing is providing security for their people which is something the U.S. has not been able to do.
I agree that all the parties involved must be part of a reconcilliation plan. However, the Sunni insugency is so fractured I doubt that all of the players can be brought to a consensous.
I wish I had the answer.
Or even to the table. Still...a very positive step. A auger of some mature thinking in the administration? I hope so.
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