Monday, December 04, 2006

Bush Meets Leader of Badr Death Brigade But Not Elected Hamas Leader

With Rumsfield gone and Bolton soon to follow, there are still a few rotten apples yet to go. Nevertheless, Bush seems to have heard America's roar and may even be rediscovering the art of diplomacy. So, we can give him points for that.

Today he meets with leading Iraqi Shiite cleric, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. Although he holds no official position in the government, his party represents the largest bloc in parliament and a member of his party is one of Iraq's two vice-presidents. Hakim talks a a good talk, painting himself as an elder statesman with a democratic vision for Iraq. Bush, in an attempt to be even-handed, is even meeting next month with a Sunni leader, the other vice-president, Tariq Al-Hashimi.

However, Hakim's history tells a different story.

Did I mention that his group also includes one of the most violent death squads in Iraq, the Badr Brigade (which later grew and morphed into the Badr Corps)? And did I also mention that this brigade was trained in (and some say equipped by) Iran and he is closely allied with Iran where he lived in exile while Saddam was in power? You might also be interested to know that his Badr Corps is responsible for some of the most heinous sectarian violence, the running of torture chambers, and murders of innocents, especially Sunnis. To make matters worse, members of Badr have now moved into key positions of the police causing Iraqis not only to fear the lawless but also the representatives of the law as well!

In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Hakim had this to say:
In more than an hour of conversation at his Baghdad home and office, Hakim denied accusations that the Shiite-led government's security forces -- with alleged involvement by his party's armed wing -- have operated torture centers and death squads targeting Sunni Arabs. He also renewed his call to merge half of Iraq's 18 provinces into a federal region in the oil-rich, heavily Shiite south, and he played down Iran's interests in Iraq, saying that the Shiite theocracy to the east wants only what the United States claims to want: a stable Iraq.

Despite all of this, this meeting would, in fact, be something to commend Bush for. After all, this is realpolitik in action. However, it is also the height of hypocrisy, not to mention inconsistent and counterproductive foreign policy. The US policy is to not meet with groups who propagate non-state violence, even if they are elected by their people in a fair and democratic process, or so was the excuse when the US decided to refuse to deal with elected Hamas leaders in Palestine.

In the case of Iraq, it is OK to meet with those who have blood on their hands because it is prudent if it holds any prospect of reducing the violence. Yet, somehow that logic doesn't translate to the Palestinians. Why?

On the other hand, we reward the Iraqis for going to the polls and electing leaders, even if some of them are associated with violent groups who wantonly kill others. Yet, in Palestine that message doesn't apply. In fact, we penalize an entire people and halt all aid to a starving population for expressing themselves in a democratic process at the polls. Why? Because we don't like how they voted? Does that mean that we like the way they voted in Iraq but not Palestine? Or, does it mean that we don't care how they voted in Iraq just as long as they voted?

So, what does the average Palestinian learn from that? Does he then surmise that democracy is what the US wants for everyone else, but not for him?

We can go on and on, but I think you can see where this can go.....

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Blogger CB said...

Bolton was a breath of fresh air in a den of theives. He rightly expressed the frustration of the American people with the feckless "world body" that was neither productive nor representative of the world's people (given more than half are two bit dictators). We can only hope that Bush will send someone equally frank.

I agree that we should not embrace those that foment violence, elected (Hamas) or otherwise. Nor should we provide economic support to such.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Renegade Eye said...

I think your argument is really good.

Bush's response would be, but not in these words, is that one person's terrorist, is another's freedom fighter.

I've been under the impression that meeting with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, is a way to open doors to talking to Iran.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Dahlia said...

Thanks RE. Yes, some analysts see this as a back-door to speak to Iran, which only goes to underscore my point. If we can talk to our enemies in one case because it is in our national interest, we cannot in another case say we can not talk as a matter of principle, despite it also being in our national interest. Our foreign policy can not have two guides, principles on one hand, and expediency on the other. One can be contradictory if it helps save lives, but in this case we are being contradictory and causing more agony.

2:06 PM  
Blogger CB said...

If it is a pretext for a conversation with Iran, it is still a poor decision. Talking with Iran is a poor decision.

The former is a mistake because of the inconsistency you mention. The latter is a mistake because, unless we are telling them that unless they stop meddling in Iraq and open the country to nuclear inspectors that we are going to b*%@h slap them, then any attempt at diplomacy is useless. It is useless because a regime that inhibits its own people and has an apocraphal view of its role in history isn't subject to persuasion. We may as well open talks with bin Laden.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous sauron said...

Prime Minister Chamberlain spent years 'talking' with Hitler. It took a Churchill to open the world's eyes. Hard to find an American that does not promote "U.S. out of U.N., and U.N. out of U.S."
Truly a cancer of corruption and total uselessness (see Sudan).

11:51 AM  

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