Saturday, June 24, 2006

Amnesty in Iraq?

This coming week, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is expected to unveil a 28-point plan to jump-start the process of forgetting and reconciling that will be an integral part of any plan to end the carnage that – for the past 39 months – has been a daily fact of life for Iraqis.

Al-Maliki will reportedly offer full participation in the political process and amnesty for those Iraqis who end their rebellion. He will provide a timetable for the departure of all foreign troops and the end of coalition operations against rebel centers of resistance such as Anbar province.

Separating Iraqi civilians from coalition forces should significantly reduce human rights violations by cutting the frequency of the encounters between civilians and all the armed factions and armies. In addition, victims of attacks from any quarter will be offered recompense. And, while financial recompense will be afforded those summarily dismissed from government or the Iraqi army in 2003, the new government will pledge to crackdown on militias and death squads.

The most controversial element from the standpoint of the White House and Congress is the “general amnesty to release all the prisoners who were not involved in the shedding of innocent Iraqis’ blood.”

Undoubtedly there will be outrage in some circles to any suggestion that those who have attacked or wounded U.S. troops – let alone killed or mutilated U.S. service members – will not be, at least, called upon to confess their actions before being pardoned. For many who have lost loved ones in this war, amnesty by the Iraqi government may add to their sense of loss and to question whether their dead have died in vain.

History, culture, and tradition combine to chart the broad course of a nation’s existence. That is why there can be different solutions to ostensibly similar circumstances. One can only hope that al-Maliki’s proposals – taken as a whole – will achieve the short-term goal of ending the killing.

For the long-term, should politicians make time to study the expected proposals and their application and results, Iraq might well constitute a case study – and warning – that, in going to war, one can never be absolutely confident in calculating the costs of “victory.” And the reason for this is, quite simply, because of the variables of history, culture, and tradition that an outsider can never completely comprehend.

All of which is to say that East is East and West is West, and when they meet there must be respect, restraint, and regard for differences as each seeks reconciliation with others. The administration must allow Iraqis to deal with the questions and issues of national reconciliation that are before them, for this is the only way forward to an emerging, stable Iraq. U.S. attempts to “guide” the Iraqis can only complicate the process, thereby prolonging the U.S. presence and perpetuating the killing and destruction.


Anonymous GeneB said...

This plan seems sound, but will Bush and Co. allow it to go forward and in full?
We (citizens of the U.S.) forgave Japan and Germany where millions were killed, certainly we can forgive Iraquis for 2,000 US dead; but will they ever forgive us for the death of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians?

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only way forward is to have both sides forgive the other and the past, and then forgive themselves for seeing others as enemies. We need to try to respect every person as a child of God and as such a brother or sister to us.

9:48 PM  

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