Ending the Mess in Iraq; Some Ideas–Part III
by Jack D. Forbes

In two previous articles I have provided background for the setting up of a ceasefire and for a conference of key Iraqi groups to hopefully bring an end to the fighting in that country.

I am hopeful for the people of Iraq, because Iraq has a long history of different ethnic and religious groups getting along, in spite of the instances of fighting and discrimination.

Iraq, for example, still possesses religious groups whose roots go back into pre-Christian and pre-Islamic times, a phenomenon which simply does not exist in Europe. And for very long periods, Baghdad was the seat of a very vigorous and significant Jewish community, the most important in the world during periods of several diasporas.

Many Christian groups have also survived in Iraq, all through the years of Islamic dominance. Of course, the years of Saddam Hussein (supported by the Reagan and First Bush administrations), the bombing by Bill Clinton, and the Bush 2 have resulted in very worse conditions for persons of all faiths.

Let us assume that a ceasefire has been achieved, at least among most legitimate Iraqi groups. The discussions that follow, perhaps with conferencing by closed-circuit television, should involve all classes of society including especially women.

But I believe that it is worthwhile to suggest that a second conference be held although it is perhaps not my place to even make this suggestion.

Let me explain: since of the key elements in the current killing in Iraq relates to the long-lasting animosity between some elements within Sunni Islam and Shia Islam, would it be impertinent here to suggest that key Muslim religious leaders from, say, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other countries be asked to converse with each other in an attempt to at least bring about peaceful relations between Sunni Islam and the Shia world?

Again, this is a question to be answered only by Muslim religious thinkers of the highest order, but it would seem to be timely.

We should recall that from the 1100s through the 1700s, and even, later, Protestants, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox groups, and other Christians were often at each other's throats.

From the slaughters of millions of Albigensians (Cathari) by Roman Catholics in the beginning of this period through the "crusades" which often saw Eastern Orthodox as a target, to the horrible religious wars of central and northern Europe (which spread often to America as well after 1492), and on to continued persecution and executions until at least the early 1800s, Christians were usually at each other's 'throats, when not practicing intolerance and discrimination against each other.

Many have forgotten this horrible age of Christian fanaticism, jihadism (if you will), and rigid fundamentalism (vestiges of which continued on until recent times, focused often on Jews and practitioners of Native American and other non-European religions).

What I am suggesting is that perhaps Muslims need to have their major thinkers to converse together to see if some sort of understanding cannot be brought about between Sunni, Shiite, Sufi, and other groups with roots in Islam. Such a process might help solve at least some of the difficulties Iraqis face today as they confront "true-believers" who seem to believe that their bombs, guns, and swords speak for the Creator.

I apologize for suggesting something that might offend some Muslims, since I am a believer in the prophets (messengers) of ancient America who came to our Native American people over the ages. Nonetheless, is it not our duty as Children of the Creator (the Great Spirit) to all come together to protect the living beings which have been placed in this sacred world?

Just today I was reading of the 8 million Iraqis who are barely surviving and of the other millions who have become refugees. It seems to me that the fate of these persons should be of the highest importance to the rich men who started the war, namely George Bush, Dick Cheney, and their clique of war planners.

But I also must include Bill Clinton and his predecessor in office, George Bush the elder, for their constant bombing of Baghdad over many years, with the destruction of water supplies, electricity plants, and other 'social infrastructure. Reportedly, incredible damage was done to the quality of Iraqi life and to the survivability of children, even before the current attack began. Therefore, I think that the United States Congress should ask these rich gentlemen to contribute a large proportion of their private wealth to a fund for the reconstruction of Iraq, including specifically payments to Iraqis who have lost loved ones in the bombings and the invasion.

I would think that President Bush would want to give up all of his private wealth, since he will have a presidential pension adequate for his needs, and the same for Vice President Cheney and their fellow war-hawks.

In addition, the USA should set up a "Marshall Plan" for the Middle East that will commit very large sums of money to the rebuilding of war-ravaged areas, such as Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq. A start can be made by canceling Bush's plans for giving increased billions of dollars in military goods to Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. We would be crazy to give good money, belonging to all of us, to rich or prosperous governments which can darn well afford their own arms (and which do not need any more anyway).

This is the way that I would suggest that we kick-start the peace process in Iraq. We switch the agenda to peace and reconstruction. No more fighting (except when attacked); but lots of listening, talking and sharing of resources.

© 2007 Jack D. Forbes. Professor Forbes makes no pretense to being an expert on the Middle East; however, he is an expert on the behavior of the USA towards Native Americans and other American republics. His latest book is The American Discovery of Europe.

from News from Indian Country, October 15, 2007