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No Negotiations in Fallujah
In Dissent, Number One Hundred and Sixty-Three
by Brian S. Wise
23 April 2004

What 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 children.”
       
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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