Ending the mess in Iraq: some ideas - Part II

by Jack D. Forbes

News From Indian Country

In “The Mess in Iraq” I outlined a number of steps that should be taken before thinking about an end to the fighting in Iraq. They revolve primarily around getting rid of the “U.S. Empire” syndrome and, basically, becoming an ordinary country like we used to be before our heads got so big and our “military industrial complex” became so powerful and entrenched.

Until we get rid of our “superpower” Empire fantasy we are going to have war after war and end up spending our money on bases and military actions that other countries should have to share or shoulder.

So we must shove our war profiteers to the ground, first by instituting a “war profits tax” to regain some of the “lucre” we have been splurging on these big corporate handouts. Second, we must join the International Criminal Court so that we stand firm with all respectable countries in terms of wanting to punish those who violate international norms of behavior.
Native American nations very often had systems where the perpetrators of crimes, or the victors in wars, had to pay their victims. Thus if a man killed another man of his own tribe, he had to be exiled until his relatives were able to compensate the relatives of the victim and the guilty party was ready to ask for mercy. In northern California, the victors in warfare often had to pay the losers for damages inflicted.

Let us think about the above in two ways: first I want to see the men and woman who fooled the U.S. people and launched the invasion of Iraq required to pay for their war. In short, I want to see George Bush, Dick Cheney, and their fellow conspirators required to reimburse the people of the United States and the people of Iraq for their arrogant and destructive actions. Congress can, of course, eliminate their salaries and their retirements, and that should be done. But the International Criminal Court might be able to go further, once a thorough criminal investigation has been launched.

Now what does all of this have to do with the end of the war in Iraq? Our news media and our leaders thus far have refused to see that thousands upon thousands of Iraqis have been willing to die for a cause, or causes, that they believe in. People do not simply volunteer to fight against an occupying army because of some kind of weird, “oriental” or Islamic fanaticism.

It is true that we now have some Islamic jihadists in Iraq, but the initial revolt against the U.S. occupation was largely an internal Iraqi affair, I believe.

There may have been many motivations, but one makes a fatal error in failing to listen to the complaints and arguments of one’s enemies or in failing to respect their demonstrated courage. Here I speak of the bulk of Iraqi resistors and not the criminal gangs and sadists who have also taken advantage of the anarchy of occupation to steal, kidnap, and torture.

Reportedly, the U.S. military has begun to work with former Sunni rebel groups, enlisting their aid against the multinational jihadists of “Al Queda in Iraq.” But we still are unwilling to see the Iraqi opposition as a form of resistance to occupation, even as we refused to see the Viet Cong as a variety of Vietnamese “patriots.” We would not listen to the Viet Cong and, generally, we refuse to listen to the opposition in Iraq.

Wars have indeed been won by brutal and overwhelming violence, but more often than not, the fruits of such wars are simply more wars and eventual defeat, if only because the victors become exhausted after losing so many of their capable young people and the wasting of so much national treasure (even though it be transferred to the pockets of the war profiteers).

It behooves us then to work for an immediate ceasefire in which all parties desist from offensive operations. With ceasefire, only those groups continuing blatant forms of offensive action would be subject to attack. The ceasefire would allow for the safe passage of representatives to a conference, or if that was deemed too dangerous, a closed-circuit televised conference could be set up. This conference would not be hurried, but would allow all groups to state their objectives and what they would need to lay down their arms.

The United States would promise, as a condition for the ceasefire and conference, that the USA would DISCONTINUE IMMEDIATELY THE CONSTRUCTION OF ANY BASES IN IRAQ and that Iraqi people would have total and absolute control over all oil reserves and facilities in the country. Likewise, the U.S. would discontinue the construction of a fortified embassy in Baghdad since only a sovereign Iraqi state could approve of continuing diplomatic relations with other countries.

The ceasefire talks will involve the delicate question of the validity of the existing Iraqi government, set up under the guidance and control of an occupying power (the USA). The talks must also involve many women’s groups that have been excluded from having a voice because of the violence in the country. Refugees in Syria, Jordan and elsewhere should also have a voice in the talks.

I would be foolish here to try to outline the nature of compromises and deals that might be necessary to lead to a long-lasting ceasefire. Clearly, every death must be paid for and every serious loss compensated, but that will be just a beginning. The US will have to stop spending money on warfare quickly because we are going to have pay a huge compensation for what we are to blame for. Perhaps our war profiteers and the Bush team will kick in some of their wealth!

This is the second article on bringing an end to the Iraq mess. Jack D. Forbes is a Native American scholar and the author of more than a dozen books including The American Discovery of Europe.

 

New webpage address at:

http://nas.ucdavis.edu/nasforbes.htm

mailing address:

Native American Studies Department,
University of California, Davis
One Shields Ave.
Davis California 95616

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