January 14, 2007
by William P. Meyers

When the central government of Iraq kills rebels, is that good government, or is that a crime against humanity?

In the U.S. most people think that if the central government is headed by Saddam Hussein, killing rebels is a crime against humanity. If the Iraq central government was installed by the U.S. military, as the current one has been, then killing rebels is good government. Why, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps will even lend a helping hand.

Americans, citizens of the United States of America, are a primitive tribal people, as emotionally stunted as an nation on earth. We have a great deal of difficulty thinking outside the U.S. national box. Yet we must try.

Iraq is not a nation in the sense that China, France, England or the United States are nations. It is an artificially created state centered in Baghdad. If you read the early history of Islam (Washington Irving's Mahomet and His Successors is a good way to take this in) you will find that in that era, around 700 AD, things were much the same. Early Islam created the Caliphate which eventually incorporates much of Eurasia, but rivalries were still intense and the split between Sunni and Shia had already begun. Everything changes and nothing changes in areas near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

There is traditionally a huge rivalry between Damascus and Baghdad for regional leadership. To the west the Persians (Iran) have always been willing to expand eastward when they are strong enough. Turkey, and before it the Eastern Roman Empire, sought to control the region, as did Egypt.

The current debate to bump or not bump US troop levels is ludicrous. The questions that need deciding are: who or what can really rule this region in a peaceful, stabile, and fair manner. It might really help to draw some boundary lines that correspond to realities on the ground. In particular it is way past time to create a Kurdish nation. Turkey should get full control of Cyprus, which is not even close to Greece.

And then everyone should start cooling down the nationalism and religious mania. Everyone needs to learn religious toleration. Most important of all, there needs to be a meeting of the minds between Shia and Sunni. If there is not, then predators like the U.S. and Britain will continue to amplify discord in the region.

The only honorable path for the US is to get out as quickly as possible. We have done enough damage. And the American people have to seriously think about punishing our own leaders when they commit war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Better still, let us beware of our own nationalist impulses and refuse to be manipulated with them. Then our leaders won't be able to invade other nations and wreck what little peace and mutual toleration their is in the world.