At least the Iraq Study Group said we should talk to Iran and Syria instead of blowing them to kingdom come. Thats a step in the right (or correct) direction. But the distinguished old, mainly white men fell far short, in my humble opinion, of presenting a plan to bring about true peace in the region, if not the world.
Yes, they rebuffed the neo-cons dreams of a democratic Iraq leading the rest of the Middle East to prosperity. Or to war. Or down the road of civil destruction. That neo-con dream turned into a nightmare for Iraq as well as the U.S.
And we gladly say goodbye to Donald Rumsfeld and John Bolton (the hard-nosed U.N. non-diplomat), who led us down the primrose path of righteous damnation. But some of the Iraq Study sounds like prolonged low-intensity conflict instead of resolution in a just way.
These students heartened me: they look bipartisan, though they are mainly old white rich guys. I applaud their proposed gradual pullout of 15 U.S. combat brigades by early 2008. Its a lot better than staying the course, or the curse as some would call it. Id like to see sooner exit strategy, though.
Some of the old farts may have too close a connection with big oil, and their call for privatization of reserves looks more like theft from the Iraqi people. Oil, after all, was one of the main reasons for staging this fiasco.
Tom Hayden, that 60s radical who went on to become California Speaker of the House and was once married to the voluptuous Jane Fonda (she will always remain Barbarella in my mind), is someone whom I listen to online. He says any diplomatic efforts will only succeed if the U.S. abandons its occupation of Iraq. The American government should end its cold war toward Iran and Syria and begin open-ended talks about solutions to regional problems, says Mr. Hayden. That includes talking about the humanitarian crisis of cross-border refugees and political settlement of the Palestinian crisis.
Tom Hayden does not trust the U.S. to end its occupation. Neither do I, especially with all our oil still under their sand.
The United States should send a peace activist as the proposed special envoy to the region. Have conflict resolution instead of military conflagration.
And work with the Iraqi people. They have elected a 100-plus-member parliament, and there are thousands of civil and social organizations that should be granted resources. One of these days, an accountant should go through the books of the main collector of the vast sums of money dumped into Halliburton. Cheney and his cronies should be forced to give back all the riches they stole.
And finally, a member of our government, preferably the President, and perhaps Donald Rumsfeld, should publicly apologize to the American and Iraqi people for foisting this war on us. A heartfelt eating of crow may soften the hearts of those who seem set upon war. (Really, Bush should offer his backside to be kicked by everyone in Iraq, soldier and civilian.)
At least saying they are sorry may get us on the good side of the angels of the Prince of Peace, whose birthday we will soon be celebrating.
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.
From the Dec. 13-19, 2006, issue