Amnesty in Iraq?
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.