No Negotiations in Fallujah
In Dissent, Number One Hundred and Sixty-Three
by Brian S. Wise
23 April 2004
is the point in negotiating with the insurgents when they offer not even a rumor of legitimate peace?
“Basra Death Toll
Rises to 73,” announces the CBC. “The death toll from Wednesday’s suicide
bombing in Basra rose to 73 overnight [from Wednesday to Thursday], as the
devastated Iraqi city began to bury its dead. The car bombs targeting
police installations in the southern Iraqi city, thought to have been triggered
by suicide bombers, killed dozens of civilians, including up to 20 school
And about those children, Fox News on Wednesday: “Iraqis pulled charred and
torn bodies from mangled vehicles in front of the Saudia police station,
located by Basra’s crowded main street market. Two vans carrying schoolchildren
were destroyed, one carrying kindergartners, the other carrying middle-school
girls. Dead children, burned beyond recognition, were taken to hospital
morgues …. “Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia was active in
Basra … during the early days of its uprising across the south this month.”
Ah, Fallujah. “Meanwhile, an agreement aimed at bringing peace to Fallujah
… met troubles only a day after its implementation began. A heavy battle
broke out Wednesday morning in the city’s north side, where up to 40 insurgents
attacked Marine positions, commanders said.” Still more: “As of noon
[Wednesday, and again on Thursday], no guerrillas have turned in any heavy
weapons, the most crucial tenet of the agreement in U.S. eyes, said Marine
Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne. The U.S. military has warned it may resume
its assault on Fallujah if the agreement falls through.”
It was that last part that irritated. If insurgents don’t play nice,
the military may resume its assault on Fallujah. Funny that it wouldn’t
be written or thought about the other way around, that as a condition of
a free Iraq, Fallujah must fall in line despite the tone of its citizenry,
or the military will take the proper stance and see to its defense in the
name of sovereignty.
Ah, if only the military were taking the proper stance. As Fallujah
has carried on I have been reminded of Konrad Adenauer, West Germany’s first
chancellor. It was in February 1961 that Nikita Khrushchev wrote Adenauer
and suggested it was time the allied occupation of the West ended.
Mr. William F. Buckley, Jr. sums it up nicely in his book The Fall of the Berlin Wall:
“Moscow offered Bonn a choice: Take a seat at the negotiating table.
By doing so, Bonn would exercise ‘broad opportunities for safeguarding its
interests in West Berlin.’ That, or wait to negotiate directly with
a newly sovereign East German government, without any mediating Soviet presence.”
And? “Adenauer pointed out that to negotiate with the Soviet Union
meant to acknowledge a hypothesis: Namely, that there was something the Allies
were prepared to give up. Since that was not the case, there was, Q.E.D.,
no point in negotiating.” In keeping with the Adenauer Principle, what
is the point in negotiating with insurgents when they have taken lives, will
continue taking lives and offer not even a rumor of legitimate peace in return
for their own lives and positions being spared? Say the United States
gave this band of insurgents everything it wants: What actually keeps it
from merely reaping whatever benefits and continuing with the attacks, anyway?
Good will? Well, that’s the thing. There are no guarantees with
terrorists, only fleeting and false hopes.
How else is an occupying nation supposed to deal with insurgents? Once
you realize there is a greater humanity at stake than that of these murderers
the answer becomes clear enough, and it was first advanced here last July
18th: “[Even though] recent sweeps have proven productive, not nearly enough
uppity Iraqis are being killed to make a difference in the ultimate safety
of our soldiers.” (This was before innocents were being routinely killed.)
In other words, there is nothing so wrong in the Sunni Triangle that it can’t
be helped along by a U.S. soldier standing on a tank with al-Sadr’s head
in his hand.
There is a certain logic in suggesting that stooping to that level makes
us no better than the insurgents, and we open the door for the creation of
another al-Sadr, or a dozen of him. But to do nothing creates a notion
of passivity, which will be taken as a cue to create another al-Sadr, or
a dozen of him. Terrorists and insurgents don’t need an excuse; they
will happily bend circumstances to their whims no matter our course of action.
Brian Wise is the lead columnist for Intellectual Conservative.
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