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How to end war in Iraq

Reader comment on item: Prepare to attack [Iran]

Submitted by Melvin A. Fechter (United States), Jun 12, 2008 at 22:34

My thought on the subject 18 months ago. Still looks good to me:

The Iraq Study Group of One

The Iraq Study Group of 10 blew it! Some of the ten, I suspect, reluctantly accepted and rubber-stamped the views of James Baker, a man of no mean accomplishment but publicly far better known, I will venture, for his famous expletive on Jews. For all the savvy of our august ten in many matters, it is shocking but hardly surprising that our Ten, co-chaired by James Baker, recommended cramming down Israel's throat a Middle East Peace Accord without Israel's participation. The superpowers would be well represented in crafting the Accord, and all the Arab nations, and in deciding, among other things, the very form of Israel's existence, but Israel would not be represented, not at all, not a whit, not a scent. I fully expected The Iraq Study Group of Ten to "blow it," to recommend nothing more than another dismal course of action for the United States in Iraq and generally in the Middle East, and so, to supersede their virtually assured failure with Baker at the helm, I appointed myself the Iraq Study Group of One. Here's my bare-bones analysis, quite, quite, quite contrarian to anything I have heard from the political scene or from news commentators:

But, first, who am I? Who am I to contradict all the "experts"? What experts? Have they not all been shown utter failures in mapping a current strategy? But who am I? Oh, just a guy, 86 years old, minus three weeks, a more or less retired attorney but in no wheelchair either mentally or physically, American by birth, Jewish by heritage, secular by disposition. Okay, if you wish, I have an "ax to grind." But can I be more wrong than the "experts" have proved? Can I offer a more dismal prospect? Hear me out.

Let me begin by asking a question and, contrary to Newton, leaving it hanging: Why is it or should it be our duty, the duty of the United States, our direct objective, to "quell sectarian violence" in Iraq? Sink this in your noodle: there may be quite a difference between a direct objective and an indirect objective.

What of "victory"? Really, we've already achieved victory; that is, we have attained the only realistic goal of the war, — the end of Saddam's despotic regime. However, we will lose the "peace" if it is replaced by another despotic regime. Our realistic goal in the peace process, such as it is, is the establishment of a representative government, composed of all the elements of the people, mostly Sunni and Shiite. How do we attain that?

Regrettably, both the Sunnis and the Shiites want to attain dominance. Each wants to attain another despotic government at the expense of the other, and both are quite prepared to murder each other indefinitely, each to attain its goal. There is no way we can change their willingness to murder to attain dominance.

That they are determined, each to attain dominance over the other, has again been proved amply, most recently, by the kowtowing of Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, the head of the supposedly representative government, to Muqtada al-Sadr, head of the private Shiite al-Mahdi army, whose sole goal, excepting to kill Americans, is to murder Sunnis. Should anyone be surprised that the Sunnis want re-re-revenge?

The Iraq Study Group of 10 despaired of their mutual determination to destroy the other. Do I? No, not at all. Did America cause the sectarian strife in Iraq? Or, for that matter, did Israel? Why, then, do we have a direct duty to end it? But how otherwise can we attain a representative government in Iraq?

If not directly, how can we indirectly end the sectarian violence in Iraq? Let them murder each other; let them murder each other until all are dead, have fled, or come to their senses. Their sectarian strife is their problem, not ours. To succeed now in attaining a representative government, our policy should be to stay there but be involved as little as possible, stand on the sidelines, "hold their coats," as long as they want to kill each other, and when one side seems on the point of attaining dominance, yes, yes, since they are not yet done with their murdering, assist the other with munitions, supplies, whatever is necessary. That means we may be helping the Shiites on Tuesday, and helping the Sunnis on Wednesday. Let them go ahead and kill each other to their hearts' content. In that way, in due course they will come to their senses and establish a government in which they both have a voice, and in which civil authority has power over the military, or else someday, with our assistance always on the losing side, they will be reduced to one man each, one will kill the other, and we can, if we deem it necessary, dispatch the victor. Pretty cynical, Machiavellian, but that's what we should do. Success!

I am aware that the Grand Imam of the Shiites, as it were, determined about 700 a.d. that the route to Paradise lies North North East and that all other routes lead to Perdition. I am aware that the Sunnis about the same time determined that the route to Paradise lies East North East and that all other routes lead to Perdition. After some 1,300 years of sectarian strife, along comes one George W. Bush who cries out, "Gentlemen, gentlemen, and your ladies, too, why don't you compromise, split the difference, and travel North East?"

How do the Sunnis and the Shiites respond? They cry out in unison: "Are you mad? The route you suggest leads to Perdition!"

Given the opportunity to kill each other to the last man, as I have suggested we afford them, would they really do it? I hardly think so. With a population of some 26,000,000, somewhere along their routes to Paradise, they will find a point their routes cross called Peace, Reconciliation, Compromise. They must find that point. We cannot find it for them.

Meanwhile, we will watch and wait. We will stay there. We will "hold their coats." We will give them the opportunity to play out their irreconcilable differences. We will have the opportunity to keep our forces there at a minimum. We will keep our involvement in their hostilities to a minimum. But to leave, we will settle for nothing less than a stable, representative government.

Suppose they catch on and turn on us together? You mean, they might find a commonality? It might prove a great starting point! We will deal with that issue when it arises.

What about the terrorists daintily traipsing across the Iranian and Syrian borders, delightedly blowing up Sunnis and Shiites alike? Mustn't they be dealt with, too? Yes, but that's another problem, relevant and related, of course, but we must deal with it separately. Mine fields? Barbed wire? A no-man's-land? To what extent are the governments of Iran and Syria directly involved? Bomb and strafe both sides of the border? I don't know. It must be analyzed and dealt with separately. But deal with it we must.

Other problems? Other hazards? Regional conflict, Sunnis and Shiites killing each other everywhere in the Middle East? Great! No time for 9/11s. As long as Militant Muslims enjoy killing each other, we might as well get the entire problem settled. Any problem with that for us? The flow of oil to the United States will or may be interrupted? Tough. We'll have to learn to do without it. That would expedite our development of alternative sources of energy. Without being able to sell us oil, they will have to do without the despised dollar and would probably run out of munitions. I don't want to hear another yak from them that we are "stealing their resources." We have been paying them a pretty penny, and without our developing it for them to start with they'd still be riding their camels exclusively; no Rolls Royces.

More hazards? Gasoline at $20 per gallon? $50? Great industries will have to shut down? You will have to stay at your job site all week and take your 30 mile, 50 mile, commute home only on weekends? By bus? Tough! Pollution, over-industrialization solved, and Militant Islam is shut down! More hazards? Continuing, sectarian strife? Yes, but no dominant sect. What do you think they have had for the last 1,300 years? Without a bit of prodding, what do you think they will have for the next 1,300 years, and 1,300 years thereafter? By preventing either from attaining dominance, we will have them on their way toward representative government.

Will we experience more, unstated hardships in the United States? Sure, and perhaps an analysis should be made exactly what they will be and where they will lie. But that is the way to go! The Iraq Study Group of 10 blew it! Hopelessly! It offers no course that does not clearly lead to an arduous but necessarily dismal failure! My analysis and strategy place the burden of success, and the cost of failure, far more squarely on them. That is where it belongs. That is the conclusion of this Iraq Study Group of One!



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