COLCHESTER -- As General David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, issued his assessment of the situation in Iraq to Congress last week, William F. Schultz, former Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, rallied supporters behind an oppositional viewpoint at St. Michaels College, in Colchester, VT, on Tuesday, Sept 11.
As the first presentation in Saint Michaels Peace and Justice Lecture Series, Mr. Schultz recommended that the United States government, eat a piece of humble pie, by rejoining the international community and apologizing for the debacle in Iraq.
In contrast to General Petraeus argument, which claims that the U.S. Army surge has aided the tense security situation in Iraq, Mr. Schultz claimed that a military solution will never resolve the problems of sectarian hostility in that country.
Like General Petraeus, Mr. Schultz recognized that an immediate troop withdraw from Iraq would have serious consequences.
He noted that in the event of a civil war between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Iranian Shiites would aid their Iraqi Shiite brothers, while Saudi Arabian Sunnis would come to the rescue of Iraqs Sunni population.
However, Mr. Schultz argued that the solution to this vexing situation is not the continued presence of the American military; rather, the diplomatic forces of the United States and the international community should bring Saudi Arabian, Iranian, Iraqi and other regional actors to the negotiating table in order to avoid what Mr. Schultz termed a Middle Eastern conflagration, which will make the Palestinian/Israeli conflict of the last 60 years seems like childs play.
This type of negotiation will only be possible, Mr. Schultz claimed, if the United States, gets back in the international ballgame. For him, this means joining the International Criminal Court, closing the U.S. prison facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, banning torture from the list of acceptable practices used against detainees, restoring habeas corpus rights for all who are imprisoned, and issuing an annual human rights report on U.S. activities throughout the world. In short, all of the actions which put the United States at odds with the practices of the rest of our allies.