Friday, February 24, 2006

A Practical Idea For Iraq

Iraq is currently suffering from both terrorism and sectarianism. Often enough, the former is provoking the latter, as has been demonstrated by the escalating mosque bombings. The worst aspect of terrorism: well, all of it, but the mosques are where they're inflicting most of the casualties, and inciting most of the strife. The worst aspect of sectarianism: those illegal militias that impose religious law and threaten to sweep the nation into civil war.

The solution? Legalize the militias as "Holy Protection Forces", or something like that. They would be allowed to act as an-almost police within a certain distance, say 200 yards, of religious buildings, principally mosques. Naturally, there would be a few stipulations. First, each one would have to be associated with and approved by its particular religious site and the residents of the surrounding area, and obtain a license from their local and national government. Second, they would be regulated. They would have to publish salaries, number of "guards", and other information that comes in handy when trying to keep small armies in line. They would only have the power to make arrests, and would have to prove to a court that they killed in self defense, should the occasion arise (which it will). Finally, these HPF's would have to immediately forward any and all cases to the real police as fast as possible.

Thus you have the ultimate solution. The militias become regulated (or atleast the groundwork would be laid for regulation, Iraq is in no shape to enforce many laws right now), and they would serve a purpose, legally defending the most vulnerable and most strife-inducing targets.

Then perhaps the situation experienced last week would have been different. Instead of twelve commando type terrorists walking into an abandoned mosque with four asleep guards in a back room, subsequently provoking the blind rage of thousands of militia men against Sunnis everywhere, some of those thousands could have instead been defending that mosque, stemming the problem at its source rather than exacerbating it.

Just a thought.


Anonymous said...

just another terrible idea.

William said...

Who do you think you are that you can single-handedly dismiss an idea without judgement? I love to discuss and amend such ideas, given facts, but seeing that you lack facts, an identity, and therefore any reputation you could bring to bear on such a discussion, no such amendments will be made.

I appreciate the attempts to contribute, but you're going to have to ratchet up the quality if you want to stop building up your ego and start producing good ideas for our country.

francois said...

Your idea is half good. The main virtue is that the militias are really the most effective defense against the Sunni terrorists at this point. The army and police aren't nearly as cohesive as the peshmerga and the Badr Brigades. The Mahdi Army is just an armed mob.

The main flaw is the idea that they can be regulated. They can't. If you decide to turn the militias loose, then they fight the war their way. At first that means just defending mosques and other important Shiite and Kurdish sites. If they are successful at that, it could dampen the insurgency sharply. If they aren't successful, then they will go on the offensive and we have civil war.

That's why letting the militias do their thing is a last resort. the end result of using the militias is going to be ethnic cleansing of the Sunnis.

William said...

This is true, militias are the backbone of sectarian conflict and are untasteful as such. Yet the fact of the matter are that they are not going away, and the security situation is not going to fix itself. The ideal solution would be to ratchet up our commitment to Iraq, providing adequate security through increased forces and ratchet up our reconstruction effort, creating an economy that can provide real jobs for Iraqi youth.

Unfortunately that's just not going to happen. Our leaders lack the willpower to do so, and at this point in the game its hardly feasible anyway. This solution requires purely regulatory resources, and it compliments the existing strategy. You bring up the offense vs. defense point, yet its not like the militias will not go on the offensive anyway were the situation to further deteriorate, and under this solution the nascent national guard and police forces could handle offensive operations (as they are doing presently). The way we're set up, I think it is safe to say that we're better at attacking than defending.

This also provides a legitimate means of controlling sectarian conflict. Sunnis are already threatening to create their own militias (probably have started to do so), and were the "HPF"'s legalized, than this would provide them with a legal means of protecting themselves, channeling their desire for defense within the system.