04/12/04 — OPINION -- Exit strategy

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OPINION -- Exit strategy

By Gene Price
Published in News on April 12, 2004 1:57 PM

Can there be peace in Iraq?

Probably not anytime soon, if ever.

People in that part of the world have been killing each other seemingly forever. These are uncompromising religious wars. Victories on the battlefields do not change religious beliefs or dampen fanatical fervor. Surviving losers resort to endless terrorism.

The war to rid Iraq of Saddam and weapons of mass destruction continues, though Saddam has been deposed and the weapons of mass destruction, or the threat of them, no longer exists. Today, Iraq has no organized army. But daily we have attacks from highway bombs, rocket-propelled grenades, drive-by shootings, assassinations. And in recent days there has been increasing evidence of broader and better organized attacks against coalition forces.

The objective, of course, is to pressure the United States to cut and run. For us to do so would be to have made tremendous sacrifices in personnel and resources in vain.

But somehow there must be an exit strategy.

In Iraq, there are at least three major and devout religious groups that for generations have been intolerant of each other. In that part of the world, intolerance can translate into killing those of other faiths who are considered "infidels."

The disagreeing factions in Iraq appear to be dominant in rather identifiable geographic regions.

Since Iraqis can never agree, perhaps the United Nations, which historically has contributed very little to peace in the world, could propose this approach:

Could Iraq be divided into three (or four or whatever) separate geopolitical subdivisions according to dominant religious beliefs? Then perhaps try to enforce a cease-fire and underwrite the cost of movement of Iraqis to those regions where their respective religious beliefs are embraced. And have a U.N. presence try to enforce respect for borders...

Could this bring peace in that part of the world?

Probably not. It certainly hasn't worked in the cause of the Israelis and Palestinians.

But if not, and if respect for borders failed to hold, the rest of the world perhaps could just let them fight it out among themselves.

Wholesale murder and efforts to produce weapons of mass destruction under Saddam Hussein were of international concern -- and have been successfully addressed. But we don't need to be caught in the no-man's land of endless wars between religious fanatics.