Saturday, June 17, 2006

Iraq: Amnesty, Expediency, Failure

tee bee

Amnesty. It's showing up again as a political bargaining chip, this time in Iraq.

From the Washington Post:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Wednesday proposed a limited amnesty to help end the Sunni Arab insurgency as part of a national reconciliation plan that Maliki said would be released within days. The plan is likely to include pardons for those who had attacked only U.S. troops, a top adviser said.

Maliki's declaration of openness to talks with some members of Sunni armed factions, and the prospect of pardons, are concessions that previous, interim governments had avoided. The statements marked the first time a leader from Iraq's governing Shiite religious parties has publicly embraced national reconciliation, welcomed dialogue with armed groups and proposed a limited amnesty.

Rather than seeing it for the politically savvy pretzel-logic maneuver it is, some would have you believe that "Iraqi government does NOT support the U.S. troops."

One might as well say of the amnesty programs for illegal immigrants in the US that Congress and the President do not support American workers. Twisted thinking applied to a twisted attempt at gaining consensus.

Johnny, whose blog deck generally echoes my sentiments but with a left lean (and a left-leaning "patriotism" equation) , notes Bush's recent surprise visit to Iraq followed by Iraqi PM Maliki's amnesty proposal, and hits the nail square on the head:

Yesterday, Maliki announced an amnesty plan for insurgents. Specifically, as long as insurgents (or are they terrorists?) "weren't involved in the shedding of Iraqi blood", they would be granted amnesty. That means, insurgents who attacked, maimed, and/or killed U.S. troops would be forgiven [emphasis his].

Is there outrage? Are the so-called defenders of the troops calling for Maliki's head? No. On the day we reach 2,500 killed boys and girls in Iraq, the Republican chickenhawks are glad to offer amnesty to their killers.

Here you go, Johnny:

I protest. I am furious. This is a slap in the face to the people who shed their own blood and gave their lives so the Iraqis could come to terms - in peace.

Coming to terms through violence should have been put down and those involved must be brought in and tried for their crimes. Maliki is "making moves" with a "security crackdown," and seeks a necessary reconciliation. However, words and policies should affirm actions, not betray them.

Politically, the Iraqis may see this as akin to repatriating enemy combatants after the war. That may be fine for the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and perhaps for those caught up in the Iraqi infighting - providing they do not return to the field of combat. It's not appropriate for those who have killed ANY of the troops that put the Iraq government in place. A house divided against itself cannot stand. To count the coalition as some external designation is to create a myth that will create a permanent fracture in the long run.

But Johnny and others make a mistake if they attempt to put this political stripe on conservatives. It's a political maneuver as old as Menalaeus, and its name is neither Democrat nor Republican.

Its name is expediency. And done in this fashion, it's dead wrong.



At 9:21 PM, Blogger Cassandra said...

tee bee:

I haven't commented b/c I am still trying to figure out what I think about this. Very thought-provoking. I just am not sure what I think.

At 1:40 AM, Blogger camojack said...

Amnesty, or travesty?

At 1:14 AM, Blogger EA said...

How much longer are we all going to take it?

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Cassandra said...

Well, I know tee bee disagrees with me on this, but I don't think it's a question of what we want.

The entire point of *not* coercing democracy was that once you give freedom to people, they get to do what they want with it. If you constantly step in and control them, they aren't free and much of what America's enemies say about us starts to be true.

Or as old Obi Wan Kenobi said, "Beware the quick and easy path - it leads to the Dark Side of the Force".

At 3:59 PM, Blogger tee bee said...

Well, Cass, you'd be right.

I'd have to say that the notion of giving the Coalition-provided territory - known as Iraq to the seemingly peaceful people who semi-supported the act by attempting to fall in line with expectations of forming an army and a government - to said residents without any interim measures for success along with respect and alliance to the nations that provided it is foolish, and not worthy of the time, money, blood and lives we spent to accomplish it.

Simply handing over the keys once the mice are out of the engine is "the quick and easy path."

Berating our armies and our administration for doing things wisely if not well is as wrong as offering amnesty to people who will continue to remain combatants, opting for control over a peace they were never interested in to begin with.

Since it is our peace that was fought for at our great expense, the errant ideal of complete (unsupported by the Allies) democracy now for Iraqis must be opposed, or our goals will not be obtained even in the short run, and our people will have sacraficed for nothing.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Cassandra said...

In theory (which is not the reality we're dealing with) I agree with you, tee bee. However, we have to live in the real world.

So long as a significant portion of the Iraqi populace (the Sunnis) continue to identify themselves as "anti-government", Iraq will never get the violence under control. I tend to see the amnesty proposal as a clever divide-and-conquer attempt to drive a wedge between Sunnis who may be tiring of the violence and who now have far more reason to support the interim govt. than formerly.

Continuing to view them as criminals ensures they won't come over to the government side. The quicker the Iraqis themselves get this under control, the quicker we can all come home. Opposing amnesty on principal makes no sense coming from the same people who wanted to keep the Iraqi Army intact when they know damn well it was riddled with Baathists.

But then logic has never driven this debate, has it?

At 7:23 PM, Blogger tee bee said...

I was speaking realistically, but you disagree. So:

Power seems to be the driver, which is pretty appropriate given the circumstances. It's the one thing everyone respects, and something we should never run to embrace in ways like a one-sided amnesty.

And its the one thing that trumps all perceived "realities" and "logic."

More to come in a separate post.

At 6:03 AM, Blogger Cassandra said...

tee bee:

I finally read Johnny's post and found it borderline irrational.

Our troops are not 'boys and girls'. They are men and women. Don't patronize us.

Needless to say, I disagree with you on this, big time. Over and over the Iraqis have shown an admirable pragmatism coupled with a very surprising grasp of the value of democratic ideals. Maliki has since vowed not to pardon anyone who took the life of US forces. But somehow I don't think that will satisfy the critics.

The only way to break the back of the insurgency is to co-opt the more reasonable members (the ones who object to our presence, but would cooperate with an all-Iraqi government). Extremists, on the otter heiny, should be summarily shot after appropriate judicial review. And my guess is that this is exactly what will happen when we get out of their way.


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