Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pyongyang, Paris, Baghdad

Some of us old farts remember the years--at least two--of negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea in Pyongyang that led to the eventual standoff in the Korean "conflict"; and the interminable period of meetings between the U.S. and North Vietnamese in Paris that led nowhere and resulted in our troops finally bolting Saigon. Thousands of civilians and soldiers on all sides of the wars died while these talks were being held, with endless wrangling (there was a weeks-long negotiation over the shape of the conference table in Paris, recall) and posturing by diplomats and politicians. As fruitless and meaningless as these negotiations were, however, at least the U.S. was, to a greater or lesser degree, involved in them, presumably striving to advance U.S. interests.

Well, it looks like we're now entering a similar phase in Iraq, with al-Maliki and others on behalf of the government trying to end the strife with the multifaceted opposition to the present state of Iraq. The difference, of course, is that we're pretending that Iraq is a sovereign nation, empowered (ha ha) to strike its own bargains to that end, and so we must control the negotiations secretly, even if it keeps the conflict going. For an obvious example, we've made al-Maliki change his tune on amnesty for insurgents who've killed American troops, the effect of which has been to so weaken the reconciliation plan that it's unlikely to have any impact.

So--now we've created a war the end of which is beyond our control except through indirect, secretive string-pulling; and which we're willing to continue to save face. If I were a parent of a kid killed in Iraq, I'd be outraged. In fact, simply as an American, I'm outraged.

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