Is “reconciliation” possible with the men who raped your daughters, poisoned your water, looted your museums, leveled your cities, bombed your holy sites, tortured and killed your friends and family, and toppled your government?
Don’t bet on it.
George Bush’s belief that he can cobble together an armistice with the Iraqi resistance and quiet things down by election time is going nowhere. Even among the few stragglers he’s managed to entice with his “reconciliation plan,” the demands are much greater than Bush is prepared to offer. The three sticking points are recognition of the resistance, amnesty for fighters, and a timetable for withdrawal.
Bush had no idea that making peace could be so difficult.
The plan came to light a couple weeks ago when Iraqi President Talibani let on that he’d been in contact with 11 groups in the so-called “insurgency” for nearly three months. That means that while Bush was touring the country promising “not to leave Iraq until we achieve total victory,” his emissary was busy passing out olive branches to the guys shooting up Americans.
The reconciliation idea appeared as a trial balloon sent up by Bush’s Iraqi premier Nour al-Maliki. Al Maliki produced a 28-point plan that was quickly stripped down to 24 points after a weekend firestorm of criticism by Democratic lawmakers on Capital Hill. Senators Carl Levin and Barbara Boxer made it clear that they would prefer to drag the war into infinity rather than pardon the men who fought Americans on their home soil. No wonder the “wrongway” Democrats can’t win elections.
Hey Carl, you don’t make peace with the guy who’s sitting at home watching TV.
Since, the initial announcement, there’s been no movement on the political front, but “reconciliation” keeps popping up in the mainstream media. It’s clear that the Bush team is going ahead with its offer of amnesty to try to “buy off” the less resolute members in the resistance. In fact, neocon Charles Krauthammer said just last week in a Washington Post article that Bush “is firmly behind the policy”. (So much for Bush’s empty rhetoric about “victory”)
In any event, the Democrats should be glad that Bush finally realized that the war cannot be won militarily. This is the first hopeful sign of a political solution and a real departure from the phony elections and the other Karl Rove publicity stunts. Still, the prospects for peace in Iraq are slim given the long list of war crimes that have galvanized Iraqi public opinion against the American occupation.
Maybe, there was a chance for reconciliation after the fall of Baghdad when many Iraqis seemed to take a “wait and see” attitude about Bush’s promise of democracy, but then came Falluja, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and Mahmudiyah. Now, it’s just a matter of running out the clock until America is forced to pack it in and head home.
There’s not much wiggle room in the new 28-point plan for Bush to wrangle a ceasefire. The real message from the resistance can be summarized in a brief two-word statement: “Get out! Get off my land and leave us alone”; that’s it, and it’s hard to see how that’s going to change.
Sure, Bush will probably manage to drag a few wavering “insurgent leaders” to the bargaining table, but as long as the occupation continues, the fighting will persist. Iraq has gone far beyond traditional warfare. Now it’s a blood feud between archrivals that will only end when one party is too beaten to get up off the ground.
Bush is dreaming if he thinks that he can patch things together by throwing a bone to the resistance. What good does amnesty do when the country is in rubble and an American stooge is running the government from the Green Zone? This just forces the resistance to stiffen their resolve and continue the struggle. There's really no other option.
The Bush plan will do nothing to quell the violence. Last month, there were 1,300 attacks in Baghdad alone. The resistance is swelling and gaining strength. They’re also minimizing the effects of America’s technical advantages while using “improvised” weaponry to keep their adversary off balance. They’ve learned to adapt to a situation that presents new obstacles every day and to execute an increasing number of attacks without being exposed. It looks like they could drag this thing out forever. They know that in 4th Generation warfare, the guerilla army only has to outlast its enemy to prevail.
Bush’s shortsighted “reconciliation plan” is D.O.A. (dead on arrival). The resistance will never settle for a “half-loaf” offer of amnesty to put down their weapons. It’s crazy. Who does Bush think he’s dealing with anyway? Does he really think he can teach the Ba’ath leaders something new about political cunning and duplicity?
These guys wrote the book, George, so give it up.
“Reconciliation” should be limited to family get-togethers and meetings with long lost friends. It has nothing to do with occupation. What Bush needs to consider is withdrawal; cutting his losses and giving up his scatterbrain idea to re-colonize Iraq.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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