Friday, June 23, 2006


It's always the same. After an indeterminate period of time claiming that "we don't negotiate with terrorists", the well-armed losing side always eventually concedes reality and, yes, starts negotiating with terrorists. Think Israel. Think Ireland. Think FLQ. And now, think Baghdad.
THE Iraqi Government will announce a sweeping peace plan as early as Sunday in a last-ditch effort to end the Sunni insurgency that has taken the country to the brink of civil war.
The 28-point package for national reconciliation will offer Iraqi resistance groups inclusion in the political process and an amnesty for their prisoners if they renounce violence and lay down their arms, The Times can reveal.

The Government will promise a finite, UN-approved timeline for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq; a halt to US operations against insurgent strongholds; an end to human rights violations, including those by coalition troops; and compensation for victims of attacks by terrorists or Iraqi and coalition forces.

It will pledge to take action against Shia militias and death squads. It will also offer to review the process of “de-Baathification” and financial compensation for the thousands of Sunnis who were purged from senior jobs in the Armed Forces and Civil Service after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Two things: First, this deal will mark the collapse of any US aims in Iraq, if it goes through. Some old-school Baathists will be back in power, but the Shia will retain power. The Baathists are being brought in simply to try and get the government running again, and are probably not going to be allowed to hold the wheel quite yet. The only thing the US gets out of this deal is a retreat with the appearance of order. In terms of the US aims prior to the war, this deal would be the final nail in the coffin of Bush's foreign policy.

Secondly, I'd like to take this moment to reiterate something: The stupidest thing ever aired on national television (not said by George W. Bush) was when The West Wing claimed, post-9/11, that terrorism has a "zero percent success rate", or something to that effect. To this end, they cited the Baader-Meinhof gang and the weather underground. Which is kind of like saying that Americans suck at sports and citing their performance in soccer. Obviously, if you exclude all the cases where terror worked, you're going to say it's a failure.

Michael Collins would, by the standards of today, probably be called a terrorist. (The only disqualifier would be his white skin.) Because of his successful campaign, Ireland was granted its independence. Menachem Begin had an important role in Israel's independence using tactics that Zarqawi would have understood. Later, the PLO managed to remind the world that, yes, they existed despite Golda Meir's claims.

It would be satisfying to believe that we were invincible to terrorism. But we aren't, because terrorism is cheap, easy, and effective. It also naturally plays to the core belief of liberal societies: If someone's willing to kill us to stop us from doing something, it's probably something we know we shouldn't be doing, or something we know we can't keep up indefinitely. See again: Ireland, Palestine, and now Iraq.

Acceding to terrorists demands isn't a sin. Certainly not when the terrorists are only demanding that we do something we should have done a long time ago - like, say, leaving Iraq.

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