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July 03, 2006

July 3, 1863. July 3, 2006

Pickett's Charge, the core event of Longstreet's Grand Assault.

"General, I have no division..."
-Major General George Edward Pickett to General Lee at Gettysburg
July 3, 1863

Keep this in mind, when considering the Iraqi Amnesty Plan, however it goes forward.

The names of the places associated with the charge are deeply indented on the American conscience. Every summer, "The Angle" and "The High Water Mark" are crowded with visitors who come to commemorate the event and ponder those terrible minutes when American killed American in a desperate contest of wills and ideals. So much carnage in such a small place- it is difficult for us today to realize the horror those young men faced, and how quickly the hopes of the North and South were determined in this famous battle.

The genius of Lincoln (I can hear Jim C. and JTG gagging, while Rich B. applauds enthusiastically - the war isn't over yet...) was his plan for post-war reconciliation. Leave aside the arguments about who started the war and why - keep focused on how it ended. The main Army of the loser defeated in the field, smaller Armies still intact, with not a few guerrilla bands active. And a continuing insurgency in some places.

But the key piece is there had recently been a lot of Americans killing Americans - and a lot of Northerners who wanted several mass hangings after the war. President Andrew Johnson got impeached essentially for staying the course Lincoln set for Reconstruction. The nation went through a lot during that period, with a Military Occupation, the Carpet Baggers, the slow recovery of the more devastated areas of the South, the rise of the KKK (a Saddam Fedayeen of it's day - like that comparison or no) and paroxysms of violence - especially aimed at blacks - that lasted a long time. A century after the seminal event itself.

Yet our anti-Bush and anti-war elites act as if Iraq should resolve itself immediately or that it is indicative of total, abject failure. And if Iraq doesn't look like a Mayberry RFD equivalent damn soon, then the whole thing was a cock-up (as if the Civil War wasn't a 4 year long cock-up, too).

And then, when the Iraqi's try to exercise a little sovereignty - the amnesty plan - many from that herd erupt in righteous indignation. "No amnesty for people who killed Americans!"

Heh. Like there isn't ample precedent for just such an amnesty. And if it will bring peace to the region... hmmm... wasn't that what we went in for?

Oh, right. It was Oil, and the sekrit directions from the Israeli Cabinet. Sorry, I forgot.

Point being - to me the model that appeals is the one we applied in Germany after WWII. De-Nazification. Essentially amnesty for the German regular military establishment and government officials, investigation and prosecution of the most egregious of the senior military and civilian leadership, and the making of the SS anathema. While you can argue the merits of the way the bulk of the Waffen SS were treated, because we largely didn't understand the labyrinthine organizational structure of the SS in general (a discussion I'm not delving into here) it strikes me this model can apply to Iraq, under the aegis of the Iraqi government - with the Saddam Fedayeen types filling the role of the Waffen SS, the Baathist party the Nazi Party, and yes, absent the war crime style killings (such as PFCs Menchaca and Tucker), give those militias/insurgents willing to work the issues a pass on their military activities, peel them away from the foreigners, and further isolate those bastards. The foreign fighters? They can be handled as were the Totenkopf Verbande - the Death's Head units that comprised the Einsatzgruppen and Concentration Camp guards. Hang 'em, shoot 'em, imprison 'em.

And let the Iraqis stumble their way into their future, which will hopefully include fewer and fewer of us.

But lets not just get in a high dudgeon whenever the Iraqis start to actually exercise a little sovereignty. They aren't us, they are going to make their own way.

Yeah, it may fail - but that was true from the start. The region isn't famous for stable well-run states except the small ones awash in money... who import a lot of the people who make it work for them. So nothing over there is going to be easy or fast or cheap.