Friday, June 16, 2006

Amnesty International

Ok, follow me now. Over here, in Guantanamo, you see, those insurgents are really, really bad and we can't let them go. But in Iraq, they're ok guys who have been fighting an occupation, capeesh? This is part of the known-knowns slash unknown-knowns dichotomy. I'm gettin' through? And no, there is nothing behind the curtain....
After the Iraqi government proposal that their insurgent amnesty plan would cover those who had attacked US forces, the predictable partisan outburst erupted, registering at 6.9 on the Richter scale and could be felt in the far reaches of media globe. But the outrage was not from those who have been endlessly shreiking "support the troops!" No, Republicans expressed admiration for the idea and its reasoned approach to reconciling the country's sectarian strife. It was the Democrats who went ballistic. There is a very good reason for such a reaction, of course, based as it was on the administration's relentless abuse of insurgents, both rhetorically and physically. After first denying the existence of a home-grown insurgency and claiming that Iraq's mayhem was all Al Qaeda's doing, Republican's eventually conceded that, indeed, most of the insurgency was nativist. They did not, however, discontinue calling insurgents "evil doers" and "terrorists" who are filled with "blind hatred" and "capable of any atrocity." Yeesh. Doesn't sound like a group of people for whom one would consider amnesty. And Senate Minority leader Harry Reid channeled his inner Bush when he said,
The mere idea that this proposal may go forward is an insult to the brave men and women who have died in the name of Iraqi freedom.
Nonetheless, Republicans appear to think such a proposal reasonable for the sake of national reconciliation. Frankly, I don't think they're wrong on this. It is just jarring to see Republicans seemingly happy in walking away from "prosecuting insurgents," especially after their "support the troops" sloganeering (which has been all bullshit anyway). It is highly unlikely the Iraqi government could ever hope to prosecute these people, numbering in the thousands, and besides, without such a proposal, the insurgency would likely continue its fight to destabilize the country, something it may do anyway. And how, pray tell, does one even go about prosecuting an insurgency and picking out who blew up whom? While AJ at Americablog claims that the proposal is "incomprehensible," it clearly is not. It is, however, completely ill-advised to announce such a proposal in advance. It is something that, while secretly considered, should only have come forth post hoc. Publicly announcing amnesty for insurgents killing US troops could likely result in an escalation of attacks on those troops in effort to drive them out more quickly. Any such "plan" should never have been publicly stated before US troop withdrawal, though with the prospect of permament US bases in Iraq, that day may never actually arrive.

This is an issue that can support neither full embrace nor complete repudiation. It is frought with difficulty. But that doesn't mean Congress won't react in an yes/no fashion, which, of course, they have. This has been standard operating procedure on the Hill. Democrats have lost their heads about this, and upon first impressions, it is easy to see why. But that does not mean something like an amnesty cannot or should not happen. Indeed, it most assuredly will. It seems though that the Iraqis should have kept quiet about it. Despite a preponderance of evidence that suggests otherwise, if we are to believe that the Iraqi government is in anyway sovereign, it should be up to them to decide on a reconciliation plan and not the US Congress.

But everyone seems to be forgetting that the propect of some kind of amnesty has been tossed around for two years now, first by Ayad Allawi and then, over a year ago, by the Kurdish president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani. But seriously considering amnesty has been made a problem by the Republicans. The discontinuity regarding their embrace of the amnesty proposal is revealed by their completely contradictory position regarding the prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. There, the Bush administration detains and refuses to relenquish "terrorists" who have been imprisoned and refused legal recourse because it is claimed they represent a grave threat to Americans; that releasing them to their country (mostly Afghanistan) will endanger American troops. But Republicans now don't have much of a problem with American-killing insurgents in Iraq getting off scot-free. In fact, they seem rather pleased with the idea.

Figure that one out.


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