Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Negotiating With Insurgents

In response to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's efforts at national reconciliation, several of the main Sunni insurgent groups have apparently offered a conditional truce as a precursor to sitting down for talks about how to shape the future of the Iraq and its government. The condition for that truce: the promised withdrawal of all US, British, and coalition forces from Iraq within 2 years.

This is not an unreasonable demand (hold your horses...before you scream "we don't negotiate with terrorists", wait until the end). From an American perspective, it's time to create some metrics for victory in Iraq, and US troop presence is a decent one. If American troops are still needed in large numbers 2 years from now, it'll probably be safe to say the government isn't working too well. 2 years may seem like a fairly aribtrary number, but at this point, that may be what is needed. Lt. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the US officer in charge of training Iraqi troops, said today that the Iraqi Army will be at full strength by the end of the year, although it would take a bit longer to train enough officers for the army. If Gen. Dempsey is right, than another 2 years should be plenty of time to train Iraqi officers to make the army capable of indepenent action.

Now, what about the problem of negotiating with people who have been killing US soldiers and Iraqis? Yes, it looks bad in public opinion, but sometimes politics requires making distasteful choices. If the choice is between talking with the insurgents and prolonging the insurgency? Seems like an easy choice to me. Even the aforementioned Gen. Dempsey seems to agree, stating that "there is a sense of inevitability" about the granting of amnesty to insurgents who have killed US or Iraqi troops.

Things seem to be progressing in Iraq. A government has been formed that is acceptable to Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds alike. Now, the Sunni insurgents are at least talking about talking. Politicians must not be hamstrung by public opinion or fear of looking weak; the stakes are too high here.

1 comment:

Hester18d said...

"Amnesty to insurgents who have killed US or Iraqi troops" may leave a bad taste in some Americans' mouths, but the US government took this course of action after the Civil War. The US dropped charges for war crimes (e.g., against Gen. Pickett) in order to start the reconciliation process sooner rather then later. I agree with you that it is a necessary step if a stable country is truly desired.