Wednesday, January 12, 2005

I JUST READ ON JUAN COLE'S BLOG that the United States has turned down an offer from the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars: They pledged to call off the Sunni boycott of the upcoming elections and accept the outcome, in exchange for the United States providing a timetable for withdrawing troops. An amazing offer, it seems to me. The U.S. said no.


Eric Collazo said...

Perhaps the U.S. decided that it is not the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholar's place to make demands concerning the operations of our military. Besides, setting a precedent of capitulating to foreign organizations that would dictate our foreign policy is a very bad idea! We should take our troops out only when it is deemed practical by the only people who are in a position to determine that criteria, the U.S. government.

Kathy said...

Hi, Eric.

First, the Sunni organization did not make demands. It made an offer. And considering the incredible violence in Iraq, and the fact that the U.S. has been practically begging the Sunnis to cooperate with the electoral process, it seems to me it's in the Bush administration's interests to consider their offer with some thoughtfulness.

Second, why do you feel it is not the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars' place to have made this offer? You're right that the troops are our troops, but our troops are in the Sunni Muslim Scholars' country, and the upcoming elections (if they take place) are their elections, to determine how their country will be governed. Surely that gives them the right to make demands -- although in this case, they did not make demands; they made an offer.

Third, considering an offer made by a foreign government (whose country we are occupying) and even deciding to accept that offer is not "capitulating to a foreign government." It's negotiation; it's diplomacy. I think a little more flexibility would greatly improve America's standing in the world. Perhaps the Sunnis feel that participating in this election without specific agreements for the end of the U.S. Occupation would be capitulating to a foreign government. I'm not endorsing that point of view necessarily, but I think it would be a reasonable point of view under the circumstances.

Fourth, I would argue that saying the U.S. government should remove troops from Iraq only when we decide it is practical to do so is the attitude of a conqueror, or an occupying power, or an empire -- whatever term you prefer, but it's certainly not the way a country that values democracy, freedom, and self-determination would think or conduct its foreign policy. How would you feel if, say, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan invaded and occupied the United States with troops for two years and then announced that they would remove their troops only when they decided it was practical to do so? Again, *our* troops are in the Sunnis' (and all other Iraqis') country. This is not our country our troops are in. Our troops are in someone else's country. By what standard of fairness or justice is it the sole right and authority of the United States to decide when the U.S. occupation should end, when Iraq is not our country?

Then again, if the Bush administration had been sensitive to the concept of national sovereignty (for any country except our own), it would never have invaded and occupied Iraq.

All of the above said, I appreciate your comments. They were very civil, which is refreshing. And I'm glad someone's reading my blog!

Have a good day,