|The Williams-Menchu Plan,
A Plan for Peace in Iraq
There is much
discussion and posturing about withdrawing the troops from Iraq. Though I favor that, it
would be folly to do so precipitously and without prior planning, an interim solution, and
ongoing support for the Iraqi people. I have not heard any of the "power elite"
put forth a plan and I wish I could take credit for this one. However, the credit must go
to three Nobel Prize winning women: Betty Williams, Jody Williams, and Rigoberta Menchu.
KERA, the Dallas public radio station, produced a segment during the International Women's
Peace Conference there, where the interviewer asked these veteran peacemakers what they
would do. Below, in bullet form, are their ideas -- with their plan and my comments. The
entire interview can be heard at:
to the Iraqi people.
American public opinion has shifted, based on recent polling, and a majority now believes
the war to have been a mistake. It is time for the American government to acknowledge that
"How can we help you? No strings attached."
Much of the aid we provide to countries has significant strings attached; Iraq
benchmarking is a prime example. We should ask what's needed, provide that, and step away.
"truth and reconciliation tribunal."
Similar to the process developed in South Africa at the end of Apartheid, the tribunal
would be conducted by private, non-government persons of stature and recognition, like
Jimmy Carter or the three peacemakers who posited this plan. The United States and Iraq
must agree to abide by the tribunal's decisions.
oil be managed by the Iraqi people.
The Congress passed a law stating that, as a prerequisite to aid, the Iraqi government
must pass a law opening the Iraqi oil industry to foreign investment. This could give US
oil interests control of Iraqi oil. Without an Iraqi law permitting investment, no US aid
would be forthcoming.
refuge for Iraqi refugees.
There are tens of thousands of Iraqis who, by virtue of their actions during the conflict,
are personae non grata, no matter how the conflict ends. We must be willing to provide
refuge for these people, those who did our bidding at their own -- and their families' --
soldiers and provide international peacekeepers.
None of the peacemakers would be US military.
pay for Iraqi reconstruction.
No US companies, however, would be permitted to participate in the reconstruction.
our "enemies" in the region.
In order to accomplish this seemingly daunting task, the US must talk to all the parties
in the Middle East. Isolating our "enemies" -- namely Iran and Syria --
represents a failed policy. We will never discover or establish common ground if we do not
talk to the people with whom we have differences. Chris Hill's diplomacy with North Korea
provides an example and proves this to be the right approach.
individual Iraqis for their personal losses.
Though we have been denied access -- via pictures and news accounts -- we have wrought
enormous devastation in Iraq. The Iraqi people must have help reconstructing their lives.
It is our responsibility to pay for that.
This plan may not be the whole answer yet it does provide
light at the end of the tunnel where now there appears to be none. The critical step is
the first: an apology to Iraq. This would entail the recognition of a mistake and an
admission. This is not the strong suit of the current administration, yet is better made
by the incumbent than his successor.
At the time the apology is given, all elements of the plan
should be laid out with nothing held back. We must communicate what we expect to do -- our
financial and technical support as well as our diminishing role in regional events going
forward, what we expect the Iraqi government and people to do, who will comprise the
"tribunal," rescind the oil investment law, and convene an all-parties peace and
communication process. What we can say about troop withdrawal then is this: When this
process is underway and events seem to be stabilizing -- but in no more than six months --
we will begin withdrawing our forces and continue until all are brought home. Admittedly,
the withdrawal will be a lengthy process; there are many soldiers and their support
materials that need to be moved by land.
The Williams-Menchu Plan -- what this outline should
rightly be called, represents a framework to move forward. It lays the groundwork on which
difficult diplomatic and technical issues can be discussed and resolved. It provides
interim steps and ongoing support for the aggrieved Iraqi people. It is, as well,
independent of the machinations currently underway in Washington and could be implemented
immediately without waiting for a September report, or the head-butting, stone-walling,
and political posturing and mumbo-jumbo that is sure to follow.