Full Sovereignty for Iraq!
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
The news from Iraq gets worse every week. The latest calamity is the report of Iraqi detainees being abused and humiliated by U.S. troops. This has inflamed the anger and outrage that Arabs were already feeling against the U.S.
The President said he was disgusted, and that this did not reflect the values of Americans. But he should be more than disgusted. The U.S. chiefs should be angry, and should show their anger. This incident is a devastating disaster for the United States of America. I am angry and outraged at this despicable violation of human rights.
Besides a court-marshal for the troops immediately involved, the superior officers are also to be held to account. There seems to have been inadequate supervision, and seemingly a failure to sufficiently educate the troops on the need to respect the dignity and human rights of Iraqis.
There is a human instinct to generalize. We are genetically programmed for inductive logic, to make general conclusions from particular cases. This has survival value, since when a few green snakes bite, people will generally stay away from green snakes. But this instinct should be managed by our reason. Unbridled induction leads to stereotypes and unwarranted bias.
So Arabs and Muslims will unfortunately blame America and Americans for the cruelty inflicted on Iraqi detainees. This incident has put all Americans in greater danger. The U.S. chiefs should admit responsibility and act quickly to salvage what is left of American prestige.
The President, the Secretary of Defense, and the top generals down the chain of command should all apologize publicly to the people of Iraq. They should say, 'I am very sorry. We have failed you. I take responsibility. We will try as hard as we can to provide restitution, punish those who did wrong, and prevent this from ever happening again.'
The situation could become even worse if it is discovered that there have been other similar incidents. There are reports of British troops also having abused Iraqi detainees. There needs to be an immediate and thorough investigation, and it should be top priority to provide the resources needed to supervise the detention of Iraqis so that the top chiefs know what is happening on the ground, with nothing happening underground.
The greater issue is the occupation of Iraq. This occupation has to stop right now. The U.S. and U.K. can cease being occupiers by immediately declaring that they are transferring sovereignty to the people of Iraq. This sovereignty would at first be psychological, but perceptions are important in the mental universe human beings live in. Humanity lives in two parallel universes, the physical universe and the mental universe.
In an absolute monarchy, the king is the sovereign, because there is no higher earthly power or authority above him. The people are not sovereign in law and in fact because they are subjects of the king, who may do as he wishes with them. But in a constitutional democratic republic, legal sovereignty rests with the people, not the chiefs of government.
The transfer of sovereignty to an appointed council in Iraq would be a sham. First of all, the council would not have sovereign powers. Secondly, the people of Iraq would still not have effective sovereignty. Nobody is being fooled by the impending transfer of pseudo-sovereignty.
The President of the United States should declare that effective immediately, sovereignty is transferred, for the first time in history, to all the people of Iraq. Every Iraqi adult will then be individually sovereign. So long as he does not harm others, every Iraqi adult would have no higher authority over him, including the U.S.-led coalition administration. That implies that the ridiculous U.S.-imposed income tax in Iraq must be scrapped immediately, and the closure of newspapers should cease.
The exercise of sovereign power requires collective action. The coalition administration together with respected authorities in Iraq, such as religious and tribal leaders, should implement effective sovereignty by holding local elections in those neighborhoods which are peaceful enough so that the voting can be supervised by neutral parties. These elections would be a powerful incentive for those fighting against coalition troops to cooperate peacefully, since the violent areas would be left out of the empowering elections.
Neighborhood councils would then exercise sovereign authority over their local domains. If they did not want foreign troops to stay, the troops would have to leave. Groups of local councils would then elect a regional council. Groups of regional councils would elect provincial councils, and the provincial councils would elect a national legislature. Thus would sovereignty flow up from the people to the government. The councils would be agents, not masters, of sovereign people.
The media is full of pundits and officials wondering how in the world sovereignty can be transferred and how democracy can be implemented. It shows how few people understand the morality of sovereignty. Human beings have the natural right to be individually sovereign. The US government should have immediately declared all Iraqis to be sovereign as soon as the old regime was toppled. But it's not too late. It's never too late to declare a state of freedom.
So here is what the U.S. chiefs should do. First, show anger at the abuse of prisoners. Second, apologize to the Iraqis. Third, declare all Iraqis to be individually sovereign. Fourth, hold village and city neighborhood council elections, and endow these councils with governing power. Fifth, help arrange elections for higher-level councils up to the national legislature.
If this is done, the policy errors can be salvaged. If real sovereignty is not transferred soon, the news from Iraq will get even worse, the U.S. will lose its moral esteem, and the danger to all Americans will escalate. Good intentions are not enough. There must be proper action. Americans must demand the sovereignization of Iraq, and soon.
-- Fred Foldvary
Copyright 2004 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.
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