Sunday, September 30, 2007

Finally, Someone's Thinking

It was slow in coming, very slow. The solution to the Iraq, problem, as I have stated previously, was in the partition of the country into various slices, mostly likely upon ethnic/sectarian lines. It is unfortunate that it should come to this, but keep in mind that the country borders of Iraq and much of the Middle East was constructed not by their own people, but by the colonial powers that contained power over the area at the early point of the 20th century. France and England were the principal participants, and when they were forced to give up power and return the land to the people of the region after WWI, they drew arbitrary lines and left it at that. They have a reputation of this, for the colonial powers did the same thing in Africa, which was one reason that led to the genocide in Rwanda so recently.

And, as it has been proven time and time again in the news and reports on the ground, the majority of the violence has been intra-sect homicide. These are three sets of people, with apparent intractable differences which prohibits them living together in one nation. There is nothing wrong with that; there are incompatible people all across the world. However, when forced to live under one flag, one border, conflicts can arise quickly. Can they ever get over this hatred? The optimist in me wants to say yes, but that is not easy or quick to achieve, and cannot be looked upon as a solution in the near future.

So, why divvy up the country? Well, the partition method also has some historical success. In Bosnia, when faced with factions that were at constant war and genocide, was broken into partitions in the 1990s, and has had considerable success since then. It may not be the popular thing to do right away, but it certainly can separate the factions into their respective corners, so to speak.

With the U.S. so bogged down here, with the troop surge generating mild if any successes, it is wise to look to a new direction. Senator Joseph Biden, D-Del, has been the chief sponsor of a plan to start a power-sharing partition plan in Iraq. It would de-centralize the government, putting more power in regional centers controlled by Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd forces. What is even more impressive is that the U.S. Senate approved the non-binding resolution. This is a powerful statement that the direction must change with respect to our plan in Iraq, even more than just removing troops, as senators have repeatedly suggested. I'm glad that someone is finally looking forward and in a "outside-the-box" fashion. Well done Senator Biden.

Of course, there are those who oppose it. The Iraqi central government condemned the resolution, with prominent Iraqis calling it a "
flagrant interference in Iraq's internal affairs." This is to be expected; even though historical inequalities led to the government being formed, the people at its stead have the desire to keep the status quo going, even if it is not the best thing for its people. They do not want to see their own power diminished, so they will fight this plan however they can. The United States Embassy, which is beholden to the executive branch, also decried the resolution. However, partition for them, and our President, would only look like some sort of "defeat" in their eyes, even if it might be a more proactive, stabilizing direction to move. They also have things to lose: prestige, votes, finances, party loyalty. All that petty politics seems to drive men to do great or horrid things.

I urge you all to read that resolution, and think honestly about the implications it has for the country, for our country, and for the future of stability in the Middle East. For isn't it better to have three smaller, stable countries operating and peaceful, than one larger quagmire of destruction and misery?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Blackwater finding itself in hot waters

There are always re-curing stories and anecdotes to demonstrate how the US government did not fully plan or execute the war in Iraq. From the blossoming of sectarian violence, to the sluggish pace of reconstruction, over and over it has been shown that we were woefully under prepared for what was to transpire in the region after we declared “Mission Accomplished” and fell Baghdad (as if that was really going to be a challenge).

Now, a multitude of accusations have surfaced around the US security firm Blackwater. At first, it was “just” the shooting of Iraqi civilians in a roadside dispute last weekend. This was telling in itself, as the Iraqi government was at last able to form consensus … over how they wanted the firm stripped of its privileges and duties in the region and shipped home. With the public opinion swaying against these guns-for-hire, it is no surprise that the government focused its ire against them. It is easy to rid itself of a private firm, and score some badly needed points with the Iraqi people, than trying to but the US out of the country. However, the United States was unmoved by the pleas of injustice and multiple murder. Just a few days of suspension, and the firm was back in the streets, shuttling diplomats and other “important” persons across the region.

However, the dirt doesn’t stop there. Now, according to the Associated Press (AP), the firm has been accused in dealing arms on a black market to terrorist groups. There is sufficient evidence, the prosecutors’ estimate, for indictments to be handed down in connection with this.

This is atrocious. We are represented by whom we hire to do our work for us. Ask any contractor and he’ll tell you that their reputation is on the line when they hire a sub-contractor do to work; should that person/group mess up, it reflects negatively on the main contractor, and the business as a whole. These security groups are, in effect, the employees of the US government. As such, we should hold them to a very strict standard, for their actions are a direct representation of our own beliefs and opinions on the matters at hand. If we allow them to get away with such activities, which clearly undermine our own objectives in the region (whatever those might be), then we send a clear message that we don’t’ care how we treat their people, their country, nor do we really care about their goals of reform and growth into a stable democracy.

It is fairly clear to me what should happen with these firms. With the amount of shoddy work and questionable conduct that has been lined up, there should be an immediate suspension of their contract and duties in Iraq. But what of their jobs? You might ask, what will happen to the emissaries and ambassadors and other VIPs that need to be escorted around the country like blushing prom dates? Well, we recently added some 30,000 plus soldiers to the area… and it is widely known that we pay less for soldier’s wages than for these security personnel. I think we can handle that. It is our job as employer to make sure our employees are not sabotaging the company behind our backs. That wouldn’t stand in corporate America, and it shouldn’t stand with our government either.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm Back ... for now

Yet again, another pause in the uploading of articles and idle pondering about the world around us. I have begun graduate school at the University of Illinois, pursuing a degree in ethnobotany (at least an MS, very likely a PhD). I also disappeared from the country for three weeks into Central America, having a lot of fun and exploring the Mayan Ruins there.

But I'm back, and looking forward to perusing the universal load of bullcrap that is paraded out for the public all the time. With the changing nature of grad school, I cannot promise these reports will come out with a regimented schedule, but I'll try to get something out when I can. And as always, feel free to read, make comments, and enjoy.

My blogs up until now have ranged over a broad range of topics... environmental issues are very prevalent, with politics, the war (what blog doesn't deal with the war), education, and social issues coming in as well. I think the general format will continue for now at least. I might tighten it up in the future, but not right now.

I want to thank my dear friend Ansley Weller, for reminding me about how and why I write, and for bringing me back into the blogging world. Thank you Ansley.