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PEACE: Foreign Policy & Terrorism | August 19, 2005




By Douglas Drenkow, "Progressive Thinking"

As Posted in "GordonTalk" and "Comments From Left Field"

"How do we make peace in Iraq?" Now, there's an expression we've heard precious little of. The question is more often "How do we defeat the insurgents?" Or "How do we pull out without allowing Iraq to descend into civil war?"

I respectfully submit that we cannot achieve either of the latter two goals if we do not achieve the first. Make the peace and the rest will follow.

That is precisely what the Iraqi people are struggling mightily to do for themselves at this very moment -- this historic moment in the history of Iraq, and of the entire Middle East -- as they grapple with the issues that divide them, in their constitutional convention, now in overtime -- "sudden death overtime" for their nationhood and for the success of the mission of our troops, who have sacrificed so dearly for the cause (regardless of the legality of the war in the first place, a responsibility of our leaders, not of our troops on the ground, in the air, and at sea).

So why haven't the Iraqis -- or we -- been able to make the peace? Well, for our part (which undoubtedly influences the mindset of the people under our gun), we went into Iraq not only without enough armor for our troops but also without a clue as to what makes Iraq Iraq -- assuming, of course, that the entire concept of Iraq isn't merely a mirage, as I previously pessimistically pondered.

While as I have written, it is true that the disparate peoples thrown together by the forces of history as "Iraqis" -- the Shiite Arabs, the Sunni Arabs, and the Sunni Kurds -- can find no end of reasons to distrust and despise one another (let alone us), it has also been written, in works far holier than any we'll read in a mere mortal blog, that there is something far greater than disputes over oil, power, or any other worldly rhyme or reason.

And what is this common denominator, which can miraculously unite all Iraqi divisions?

Allahu Akbar -- "God is greatest" -- the very motto of Iraq, the belief that makes Iraqis Iraqis, or for that matter Muslims Muslims (or for that matter Jews Jews or Christians Christians).

And to further our homework (which should have been done long before we put our troops to the test), "Islam" means, quite simply and beautifully, "submission to God". And therein lies the only hope for peace in Iraq.

But isn't the role of Islamic Law in the new Iraq a major stumbling block in bringing the parties together? Yes, but there is a more fundamental concern (which seems to get lost, quite ironically but disastrously, on fundamentalists in any religion).

And that is that we are all God's children and any disagreements we have are utterly dwarfed by His unconditional love for us. Our Father in Heaven is saddened when His children on earth are fighting. He made us to love one another and Him.

But this is the "real world", the cynics insist; such "idealistic" prattle can never make peace in a world filled with hate.

To which I must reply, such appeals to faith can indeed work, and did indeed work, in forging the longest lasting peace treaty in the Middle East, between parties more at odds than Muslims against Muslims: Muslims against Jews.

At Camp David, the Egyptians and Israelis made the peace, ending decades -- truly millennia -- of hostilities, as the devoutly Christian Jimmy Carter appealed to the profound faith of the devoutly Muslim Muhammad Anwar al-Sadat and the devoutly Jewish Menachem Begin. Three religions, one God, one sincere and lasting accord.

Allahu Akbar!

The Iraqis may be divided as Arabs and Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis; but they are united by their common faith in one God.

There is only one way to bring the feuding parties in Iraq together and make the peace. And that is with an appeal to their most fundamental beliefs, undercutting any divisions they may have.

It worked at Camp David; it can work in Baghdad.

But where is our Jimmy Carter, the catalyst for peace?

Taking a vacation in Crawford, hiding from the mother of one of his war's dead.

AWOL in war, AWOL in peace.

Allah, have mercy.

P.S. Before those on the Right use my arguments above to call for the establishment of a state religion in the US, need I remind you of all the "mischief" that has been done in the name of religion down through history? The present circumstances in Iraq -- of ethnic tribal warfare being stoked by religious tribal differences -- could be Exhibit Number One in the case for the establishment of a wall between church and state. So isn't it then hypocrisy on my part to call for appeals to religious beliefs in Iraq? Perhaps. But religious faith seems to be the one and only area in which the Iraqi factions agree: Either they make the peace on the basis of shared religious dogma, or they will inevitably -- and probably violently -- tear their nation apart. And kill and maim thousands more of our people in the process. America, by contrast, is held together by the common bond of a love for liberty -- the very antithesis of religious or any other intolerance. As long as we share and uphold that belief -- even if the policies on the Left do not match those on the Right to enact that belief -- then we will probably persevere and prosper as a nation. Iraq is Iraq, and America is America. And thank Allah for that.

P.P.S. Of course, if we encourage the formation of a fundamentally Islamic Republic of Iraq, we risk the danger of hearing Allahu Akbar in another traditional usage -- as a war cry -- directed against us. As any peace officer will testify, the worst place to be is in the middle of a domestic dispute; all too often the fighting parties will gang up against you. What idiot got us into this God-forsaken mess in the first place?!

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