Friday, January 12, 2007

An International Truth and Reconciliation Commission

It is clear from Wednesday's performance that few people believe that there is a plan and of those who believe a plan exists most expect it to fail. Some like myself and Steve Clemens suspect that the administrations real plan is not to try to cover up the mess in Iraq by provoking Iran to make an attack. While nobody would expect us to be greeted with flowers this time round they might hope to use air power to bomb Iran into a swift capitulation allowing them to declare victory. If Iran won't oblige, try Syria, if neither will oblige then use the Tokin gambit and pretend that there was an attack.

The only argument left in favor of Congress continuing to fund the war is that unless the Iraq fiasco is seen as a Neo Conservative failure, a direct result of their foreign policy fantasies it will not be long till they start yet another war. Ford's pardon of Nixon did not as the Washington bobbleheads claim 'help the nation's healing', instead it allowed the neo-cons to live in denial for the next three decades and cook up their own version of the German officer corps 'stabbed in the back' theory.

It is clear that the mess in Iraq will not be solved by this administration. What should the next administration do?

The answer as I see it is a complete break with the past. Nixon was elected in 1968 offering to do just that. He made the mistake of listening to Kissinger tell him he could win the war instead.

The only interest that the US should attempt to secure in Iraq at this point is to stop the bloodshed. All and any plans to establish long term military bases, control exploitation of Iraqi oil or even to encourage the emergence of Western friendly democracies must be repudiated as dangerous Neo Con nonsense.

Stopping the bloodshed is the objective of most of the Iraqis and certainly all of Iraq's neighbors. The problem is that it is not their only objective. First the Shi'a have to make the point about how they have been horribly oppressed by the Sunnis, the Sunnis want to complain about the insults they have received since the fall of Saddam. Iran wants to complain about the US coup that overthrew their democracy in favor of the Shah. And so it goes on.

South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission may be a model that could be adopted. If what the parties really want is for someone to listen to their long littany of injustices they have suffered then put it all out on display. Show the proceedings on cable, the Internet. Let everyone have their say. Groups that perform new attrocities during the proceedings would hurt their own cause.

Such a commission might not bring a final peace to the region but it would certainly allow the US to forever bury the neo-con fiction that the US is somehow possessed of a unique moral virtue and thus a unique responsibility to dominate the rest of the world.

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