Saturday, December 16, 2006

Who are you calling a Warmonger?

Should a person be considered a "warmonger," if he or she is only thinking of the future? Does not being "anti-war" mean being "pro-war?" I submit that, when it comes to Iraq and the Middle East, nobody who is not a Islamist militant or Baathist insurgant is "pro-war." Every proposal, every suggestion put forth by everyone, from the ISG, to the military leaders in Iraq, to the President himself, is a plan to put an end to the violence in the region.
Certainly, many of these proposals are flawed. We know that we need to use diplomacy along with military force in order to meet the goals set forth by the President and the ISG--diplomacy is needed to ensure stability in the region, and the military is needed to protect stability in the region.
But, how far should diplomacy go? How far can it go? The President has been talking one-on-one with Sunni and Shiite leaders in Iraq, and, for the last five weeks, the Marines in Ramadi, a hotbed for insurgancy, have been working with both the Sunni dominated police force, and the Shiite dominated Iraqi military to bring stability to that city. They have imbedded advisers in those two organizations to train and plan with the Iraqi forces. They have contracted with the local citizenry, to hire Iraqis to build and repair homes and facilities. Although Ramadi cannot be considered safe, the Marines are gaining the trust and support of the general populace, and solidifying the resolve of the Iraqi civilians in that city to oppose the insurgancy. Though these methods were among the ISG proposals, they were in effect prior to the release of the ISG report. The activities of both the President, and the Marines in Ramadi will, I feel, prove to be very productive in the long run.
James Baker, co-chair of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) has admitted that Iran is not likely to be of any help in bringing peace to the region, but suggests that the US enter unilateral talks with that nation, if only to show the world where Iran stands. The fact is that the US has already set the conditions under which negotiations with Iran could be held, and Iran has rejected those conditions. Unconditional unilateral talks with the leadership of Iran would be extremely unwise. By the rhetoric of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and members of Iran's Supreme Islamic Council, we know that such talks would be seen by Iran as surrender terms, and a victory for Iran. To officially recognize the government of Iran would be to sign a death sentence for the seventy-five percent of the Iranian population that is anti-government, because it would be a step toward abandonment of the cause for freedom, and would legitimize that governments methods against its own people. Iran does not want to see a stable, democratic and independent Iraq, a goal which has been stated by both the President and the ISG. Iran wants to control Iraq, and a stable, independent government in Iraq would be countrary to Iran's goals.
The United States has nothing to offer to or take away from Iran in unilateral talks. We cannot trade nuclear weapons for freedom in Iraq, because that freedom would not be a lasting freedom. Iran's only points would be that the US and its allies leave the region, that Israel be dissolved, and that Iran be allowed to control Iraq. We already know that the latter condition would result in a much more widespread war between several countries in the region. Saudi Arabia has already warned that if the US were to precipitously leave the region that it would have to back the Sunnis in Iraq to fight against the Iraqi Shiites and Iran. Unilateral talks with Iran over Iraq is definately a non-starter.
Fred Barnes, of The Weekly Standard has suggested that James Baker be appointed as a special envoy to Syria, so that he could attempt his plan to "flip Syria." Barnes, like any pragmatist, does not believe that Syria would suddenly stop supporting insurgants in Iraq, and stop trying to control Lebanon, all in exchange for Israel returning control of the Golan Heights to Syria. Common sense says that that would never happen, but if Baker could pull that off, he would be God.
It is up to the Iraqi government to establish diplomatic relations with its neighbors, not the United States. If there are to be talks between the US and Iran and Syria, they should be in the context of multilateral talks including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Turkey, Russia, China, and the EU, as well as the United States. All these countries have a vested interest in the future of Iraq, and this is the only way negotiations concerning the region should be conducted.
Another way to peace in Iraq would be to encourage industry in that country. As President Bush has suggested, support should be given to establish a strong agricultural economy in Iraq, as well as an agreement to fairly distrubute oil wealth. Jobs need to be created, and would largely take power over people away from the insurgant organizations and militias and give it back to the population. Iraqis wanting jobs would leave the insurgancy to get jobs. This is a very important condition in bringing peace to that country.
A little more than half of Iraq exists under peaceful conditions. Free market industries and retailers should be encouraged to establish business in these regions, drawing more people away from the militias for the sake of productive jobs.
The US military presence is still needed in Iraq, until the Iraqi security force can stand on its own. The Ramadi model by the Marines should be successful, and it should be implemented throughout the country. This is all toward bringing peace, and to preventing a much larger war in the future. It will take time, but it will work. My opinion is not "pro-war," or "anti-war"--it is pro peace. So please stop calling me and those who agree with my point of view "Warmongers."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Kofi Annan's UN Legacy

The outgoing Secretary General's legacy can be summed up in just a few words:
Oil for Food
The Congo
Basically, he just proved how inneffective and corrupt the UN can be.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

From Whence I Blog

I use the public computer from the Old Colorado City library branch in Colorado Springs. This building was erected in 1905, under a grant from the Andrew Carnegie foundation, and is an official historical landmark.
I like to use the "sepia" feature on my camera when photographing older buildings, but I've included a full color shot from another angle.