June 4, 2007
Drive U.S. Out of Iraq
with Peace? Fine By Me, Muqtada
“Pay attention: This
is an important point,” Muqtada al-Sadr recently said to his Iraqi
Shiite Mehdi Army after emerging in public for the first time in four
months. “As far as I know, the occupation is behind this [intra-Iraqi
violence], creating an excuse for it to stay in our beloved Iraq. So
don't give it a reason, please.”
That’s fine by me,
Al-Sadr is one of
many Iraqis, Arabs and individuals around the world who sincerely
believe that the United States invaded Iraq, and remains there, for the
sole purpose of staying in that country indefinitely. An American stay
in Iraq, they believe, will signify virtually unlimited American access
to Arab oil as well as endless American rule and expansion in Muslim
countries. Few of these skeptics are convinced of America’s claims that
it remains in the Middle East in order to help Iraq and the rest of the
Contrary to these
widespread beliefs, however, Washington has different intentions. Though
the United States did invade Iraq in part to eradicate Saddam Hussein’s
regime, a major goal of the war was the establishment of a democracy
that would hopefully spread to other countries in the region. A
democratic nation would in turn be self-governing and independent, thus
relegating U.S. presence in the country to one equivalent to its role in
Germany or Japan. The American objective hence is not exactly suggestive
of the type of imperial power to which al-Sadr alludes.
A quick look at the
perspective of the American public would go a long way in demonstrating
the point. Americans, both in the anti-war camp as well as those
resolutely standing behind the Bush administration, are itching to get
the troops back to their families as soon as possible (though “possible”
is defined quite differently on each side). They do not want to be in it
for the long run, nor do they hope to move on to another military
venture in the region for anything short of an absolute necessity.
It is therefore
somewhat humorous that al-Sadr seems to think that a peaceful Iraq would
present bad news for the United States because it would force the
withdrawal of its troops. In fact, that is one plan to apparently force
America’s hand that Americans would probably support. If al-Sadr wants
to help sow the seeds of peace between Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites in order
to get Americans out of Iraq, we can live with that for now.
While he’s at it,
there are several other things he could do to make Iraq ever more
peaceful and get the United States out even faster. For one, he could
work toward the disarmament of Iraqi militias, whether or not under his
control. He could encourage his constituency to work within the Iraqi
government in order to effect change. He could reach out to Sunnis and
work with them, the Iraqi government and coalition forces in order to
weed out extremists on all sides.
We can agree with
al-Sadr that, in such a situation, the U.S. troops would be very quick
to leave Iraq. And that is a good thing.
The United States
has tried hard to convince Iraqis from all sects and factions that it is
doing its best for the people of Iraq. Many believe us. Others, however,
despite seeing the United States suffer thousands of deaths, a decrease
in international respect and the loss of regional power, still believe
that America is somehow benefiting from the violence and the extended
stay associated with it.
They are obviously
wrong. Clearly, however, this theory has reached some of the highest
levels in religious and political leadership, as we see in al-Sadr’s
words. He refuses to believe us still, but this time, it is not such a
bad thing. He claims to want to work toward peace in order to get
Americans out of Iraq. Wonderful, let him do that, for we are not trying
to find a reason to stay there. We are trying to find a reason to get
out. Peace would be the perfect reason. Let us work on it together,
Muqtada, shall we?
© 2007 North Star
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