Peace for the US and Iraq
I started responding to a comment in a post by Historymike and it just got too long to justify posting it on his site. So, I'm foregoing my posting pattern to put this up.
It started with the Mosques, the violence, and the effects this will have on Iraq. When someone said this was yet another reason for our troops to leave Iraq, I couldn't help but pointing out that al-Sadr, our enemy, agrees. That, of course, opened a can of worms. Dariush provided an excellent link, which I felt the need to respond to and so here we are...
As per the article Dariush cited, I don't think any one strategy is going to be entirely effective. I am, however, one of the "traditional conservatives" that thinks it's hypocrisy at it's worse that we are "spreading Democracy" to Iraq, while supporting dictatorships in neighboring countries. Also, I think an equitable solution between Israel and Palestine would certainly help (though I don't recommend "abandoning" either). Finding a peaceful solution that provided Israel with security and Palestine with prosperity would eliminate, to a certain degree, one of the wedges between the Middle East and the West. However, in the long-run, giving less fodder to the corrupt clerics and governments that convince their under-educated populace that the US is responsible for all their hardships by not supporting governments that force unnecessary hardships on their people would make a much bigger impact, imo, seeing that while many Middle Eastern Muslims give lip-service to their Palestinian "brothers," they don't actually help them rise above their extreme poverty very often or consistently. Over all, a new, saner policy should be enacted that will give the impoverished Middle East populace the opportunity to control their own fate, so they can demand decent jobs, decent housing, decent education and other necessities for growth that oppressive dictatorships keep their people from having. I don't claim to know exactly what that policy should be, but touting democracy in one country while supporting dictatorships that, amongst other things, don't actually take care of their people is foolhardy at best.
Of course, oil has a lot to do with that, and I think one of the first steps to "discovering" a sane approach to foreign policies in the Middle East is getting out from under our oil dependence. And I mean, really doing it, full-throttle, not the GWB way. We need renewable energy that's good for the environment, and if we actually made that a priority American ingenuity would make it happen. Instead, we get talk, trickling funding, and little progress. That's inexcusable.
These are obviously long-term solutions. There are no easy, immediate solutions to our predicament. This crisis has been building up for decades at the very least, and from the point of view of many Muslims, centuries and millennia. As daunting as that is, what we do NOW can have a lasting, positive effect. However, none of this will bring immediate peace in Iraq. Frankly, I don't think anything will. Our soldiers leaving, as was suggested at the start of this particular discussion, will NOT bring peace to that country, and it will not make us safer. Which is only one of the goals that this country should have. Immediate safety for our soldiers, no matter how desirable, does not win long-term safety for our soldiers and their families. Many of THEM know that, that's why they're soldiers. Some in the US do not understand the difference.
Back to the article Dariush cited:
"Even if U.S. foreign policies were changed, however, the global Islamist insurgency very likely would continue."
That is a statement I agree with 100%, which is why I don't see leaving Iraq as a viable option. If we cut and run, then the terrorists win. While that doesn't seem to bother liberal_dem and other liberals throughout the nation, that does bother me quite a bit and not for the sake of any gold medals as liberal_dem ignorantly suggested. It will embolden the extremists and make them all the more difficult to defeat on the larger scale. And, make no mistake, to win a lasting peace these extremists HAVE to be defeated, not just side-tracked, much like Hitler. After all, their goals are very much the same. I don't want my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren being blown up or worse, because we didn't have the courage to face a group of terrorists who want to rule the world.
See, that's the thing. Their fighting us isn't about Iraq. It's not about our foreign policy. It's about world dominion. I've read enough on this particular sect of Islam to understand that. They believe Islam should be spread across and rule the world the same way some misguided Christians (sometimes most Christians) have felt over the last couple millennia. I do not want America or Christianity to rule the world. I do not even believe that "democracy" has the right, that democracy is right for every nation right now irregardless of their own desires. And I certainly don't want Islam to be spread that way. While I respect the Islamic religion as practiced by the many, many moderate Muslims, I don't want to convert to their faith, not by choice and certainly not be force.
Don't believe me, then look further down in the article:
Extremists among the Sunnis dream of the restoration of the Islamic caliphate, which would rule by Islamic law the entire Muslim umma, or community, around the world. When the last Islamic caliphate, that of the Ottoman sultan, was abolished along with the Ottoman Empire in 1922, the Muslim world broke into a plethora of separate and competing states. These states and their apostate or heretical regimes would in turn be abolished with the establishment of the new caliphate.
Will staying in Iraq solve the problem? No, probably not. At least, not exclusively. Nor will leaving Iraq. Leaving Iraq, however, will cause more problems than trying to solve the situation there. I don't recommend "staying the course," i.e. doing the same things we've been doing--insanity isn't going to win the peace. But, neither is cowardice.
But that doesn't mean we are without options. This paragraph, in particular, had great meaning for me.
The history of the Cold War shows that, when dealing with an opposing political ideology, a strategy of separating its moderate adherents from its extremist adherents can sometimes be successful. In Europe in particular, the United States was very successful in separating moderate Marxists-socialists and social democrats from extremist Marxists-communists during the 1950s, and this division largely persisted for the rest of the Cold War. This splitting strategy was not very effective in the Third World, however. There, moderate Marxists the "Third Way" rarely existed or, if they did, they were soon marginalized by the extremist Marxists or repressed by the authoritarian, anticommunist regimes that were the allies of the United States.
I have had or do have several Muslim friends. They're good people. They enjoy the freedoms of our Democracy and want that for their homeland. They enjoy the ability to make choices for themselves without being repressed by their families, their religion or their government. However, the sad truth is that this is NOT the reality for many Middle Eastern Muslims. They simply do not have our freedoms. For some, the under-educated masses in particular, they can't understand or imagine having our freedoms. That's where policy changes come into effect. The US has a history of supporting these governments that deny their own people the basic tenets of life we often take for granted. If we are going to be able to co-exist peacefully with the Middle East, this has GOT to stop. I don't recommend sending in our soldiers to ring the Liberty Bell for all nations near and far. That's ridiculous. However, NOT supporting the governments that oppress their own people...that's just common sense for a nation that believes in Democracy! If Middle Eastern Muslims desire Democracy, they will demand it. If not, then they will find a way to live equitably eventually, so long as more powerful nations aren't forcing oppressive governments down their throats.
Also, (and this is for those of you who aren't familiar with my blog) I must say that this isn't news to me. Supporting moderate Muslims is something I have a bit of a passion for. Far too many people call for the moderate Muslims to do something, and don't pay attention to the fact that they are doing quite a bit...and we're ignoring them. This does not help our situation.
The article Dariush cited somewhat dismisses this strategy:
"There, the features of authoritarian regimes, widespread poverty, and polarized societies combine to nurture extremist Islamism along with extremist political actions."
My point is that instead of dismissing the strategy, addressing why it is not effective will help to not only make the strategy viable, but it would actually be a PART of the strategy itself. If we were not actively infuriating the people we want on our side by supporting those that make their lives miserable, then they would be more likely to want peace with us. If we were actually helping them to get the necessities of life...well-deserved gratitude does have it's advantages. Right now our "aid" efforts often end up lining the pockets of the wealthy and powerful, instead of filling the bellies of those who go hungry. And yet we wonder why they hate us?
With the Mosques we are, of course, seeing this next quote live:
The contemporary analogy is the division between Sunnis and Shi'ites in the Islamic world. The ongoing sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shi'ites in Iraq provides a daily reminder of the intensity of the division in that country, but the division, suspicion, and conflict between the two versions of Islam is a feature of many other Muslim countries as well, especially Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Sunnis normally regard Shi'ites as heretics and inferiors; Shi'ites normally regard Sunnis as hypocrites and oppressors.
In this article it's proposed as a good thing:
"In the Muslim world there might be Sunni Islamists and Shi'ite Islamists, but each might consider their greatest enemy to be not the United States, but each other."
But that really depends on how humanitarian your view is. Personally, I don't want to win peace for us, but helping the Middle East slip into a massive war. Despite the evaluations of the author of this article, I don't think that is a wise and equitable choice.
Nor do I believe that this statement is entirely accurate:
"The Bush administration persists in trying to construct--or conjure up--a democratic, unified Iraq, but this objective will probably prove to be unrealistic and unattainable."
It's a matter of choice. The Iraqis may CHOOSE to split. That's a likely possibility. However, if the Iraqis leaders genuinely want a unified Iraq, they can obtain it. It's THEIR choice to make, not ours.
After all, this is what I find inexcusable:
"The methods of these Shi'ite and Kurdish militias or armies would indeed be ruthless and would probably reach the point of expelling many of the Sunni inhabitants from the Shi'ite and Kurdish regions in a way reminiscent of ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia."
James Kurth may feel that letting the in-fighting destroy this area of the world is a reasonable alternative to the hard work of building peace, but I cannot and do not. While, should the Iraqis choose to do so, I would have no problem with supporting an equitable division of Iraq that was peacefully effective, giving each party what it needs to survive and thrive on it's own; I can not in good conscience advocate abandoning them to kill each other. Strategically that may be a sound strategy, but morally in is inexcusable. We're there. We need to find, develop, and make effective a strategy to obtain peace, not just for ourselves, but for the Iraqis. We've taken this responsibility, which very well may have been a mistake, but abandoning that responsibility is an unconscionable strategy.