First placed on the Internet September 2006|
The nightmare activities in Iraq has seemed to all the leaders in America to be beyond solution. President Bush seems incapable of understanding any concept other than "stay the course" and he may be the only person still in America who thinks we could really win in Iraq. He still speaks of creating a democratic government and society there, which seems to show total lack of understanding of reality.
The Iraq Study Group recently (12/06) released its conclusions regarding trying to lessen the losses we face in Iraq, conceding that there is really no possibility that we could ever "win" in the sense of any of the claims initially claimed as being the reasons for invading Iraq.
But their findings were immediately ignored by President Bush, even though they were generally quite logical at accomplishing what they desired. But their goals and expectations were necessarily limited to start with, because they needed to provide conclusions that the Bush administration might consider acceptable to actually implement, regarding their long held attitudes.
This concept is not limited by that restriction, as I see no reason to have to please President Bush. My two desires are to return as many American Military Personnel home alive and uninjured, and to give Iraq a valid chance of avoiding complete chaos in a massive civil war.
I note the ironic detail that such a civil war and wild insurrection could never have even started except for the United States invading and removing a very vicious but very effective government. No civil war, or even significant sectarian unrest, could have happened due to the extreme repressiveness of the Saddam regime prior to the war we started.
I believe that this concept has at least a 50-50 chance of complete success, of an entire cessation of all of the incredible sectarian violence that is now Baghdad and Iraq. There are a number of very important aspects of this plan, which will each be briefly outlined here.
The 30 participants described below, of an Ummah meeting, and their leaders, need to know ahead of time that there are only two possible outcomes of their efforts;
If some aspects of agreement were achieved, it is critically important that each of those participants could then fully inform their respective leaders, and that each leader would then publicly speak to his own followers regarding complying with the agreed to issues.
At any time when conversation changed to argument or confrontation, someone present would remind everyone there of the chairs providing the presence of Abraham and Allah (PBUT), and ask if they wanted Allah and Abraham (PBUT) to be witnessing such behaviors.
Somewhere around 590 AD, the very young Muhammad (PBUH) was present in Mecca as four very important tribe leaders argued over which had the right to carry the Black Stone to replace it in the wall of the Kaaba. Since that stone and the Kaaba were centrally important, both socially and religiously, to each of them, it seemed that a tribal war could develop over the argument over who would carry it. Muslim Tradition says that young Muhammad (PBUH) spoke up and suggested that they get a strong cloth, place the Black Stone upon it, and then all four could lift corners of the cloth, permitting them all to equally carry it. This incident is considered to have tremendously increased Muhammad's (PBUH) stature as a diplomat, and from then on, he was regularly consulted about important subjects.
The presence of this blanket and large stone in such an obvious and central location in the discussion circle would constantly remind all about this story that they each very intimately know where Muhammad (PBUH) had found a way to resolve an apparently insoluble conflict. In this case, three of the corners of the blanket would be in front of the three groups, Shias, Sunnis and Kurds. The fourth corner is to indicate that Allah and Abraham (PBUT) will participate by carrying the fourth corner if the three groups can each find some way of carrying theirs.
The power of this image to Muslims is indescribable. WHILE these discussions proceeded, if the Iraqi newspapers regularly published artwork demonstrating what their leaders were then doing, all Iraqis would immediately get a sense that they were certain to succeed! That it was just a matter of a few days and all the sectarian violence would end. That their individual lives would IMMEDIATELY get far safer and happier!
The presence of that blanket and stone would also ensure that every participant would attempt to participate in finding solutions. NONE would want to be known as one that denied carrying their corner of the blanket, either to the Iraqi public or to Muhammad, nor to Allah nor Abraham. (PBUT)
This should provide direct instructions from each leader that no further sectarian killing or other bloodshed would be encouraged or tolerated.
As part of this aspect, the participants might agree to allow different forms of government to exist in different areas.
( http://mb-soft.com/public3/iraqwara.htm )
It is also based on the concept that all the leaders of all the factions now have a clear recognition that truly a horrible future awaits Iraq if they are unsuccessful at achieving agreements. If any one of the leaders chose to disavow this fact, a civil war is probably unavoidable, and the continuing existence of their own power-base might easily disappear in the process. Therefore, the various leaders currently should have excellent motivation to supply suitable participants for this effort. It is therefore felt that a rather high chance of full success is achievable.
I am essentially trying to point out to them that Muhammad "found a relatively simple solution to an impossible problem" regarding carrying the Black Stone, and then CHALLENGING them to see if they can do the same!
From maybe twelve different subtle ways, I am trying to create an environment where none of the participants would dare fail. THEY would know that the Iraqi public would have thought through "Muhammad did a similar thing. Our leaders are smart and we respect them, and they are Devoutly Muslim. In their meeting, they will even have the direct assistance of both Abraham and Allah. How could they fail us now?"
If you were to be a participant in such a meeting, wouldn't YOU be extremely aware that you didn't dare let Abraham down, especially since he is RIGHT THERE. You also didn't dare let Allah down. You didn't even dare let the Iraqi people down! And if it should turn out that such a meeting failed, it would surely be quickly known WHO was the obstacle, and you would NOT want to be known as the one person who caused your country to then disintegrate!
Instead, I see it as very valuable to assemble a short (30-second to one minute) videotape presentation, where 9 or 12 (or 30) individuals would walk in a room which had the chairs already arranged in the discussion circle, as well as the blanket and stone in the center. There would be NO script at all, as none of the individuals would say anything in this videotape. They would simply bring flowers, and pause momentarily before the chairs of Abraham and Allah and respectfully place their flowers near those chairs, and then take their seats.
There would be a voice-over which described the action. For the initial American audience, that voice-over would be in English, but the critical second version would be identical except with the voice-over in Arabic.
That videotape would be provided to al-Jazeera television as well as all major Iraqi newspapers. The rest would then be up to the Iraqis, although some individual such as Kofi Annan might offer to make the arrangements to locate and set up a suitable meeting site.
This would then require 9 or 12 or 30 actors who would not have any speaking roles. My thought was that the Political Science students from some University might be offered some extra credit if they did some research regarding the exact appearance that Sunni, Shia or Kurdish leaders might wear for such an occasion and to then make such clothing to wear. The students should also study how each leader might most respectfully walk and act, regarding the idea of being in the presence of their Lord. This is in parallel to the thought that Christians would similarly act quite differently if they believed that Jesus Himself was to be Present where they were to meet.
If the actors/students could make a credible presentation of how each participant might act honorably and respectfully, Muslim viewers of that videotape might accept it as a potentially useful concept.
From there it would be up to the Iraqis.
Beginning in 1996, our Church has used a rather unique method for discussing marital disputes and those between neighbors. We prepare an office with four chairs, the standard one behind the desk and three others. Two are rather generic, and usually folding chairs, which are placed about 5 feet apart and we place a "privacy screen" (a portable partition) between those two chairs. In front of both chairs, around ten feet away, we place an upholstered chair (from a living room). The husband and wife are greeted and then asked to sit on the folding chairs, where they cannot see each other but can only hear each other. I usually note that we are in a Church, which is a House of the Lord, so I think it is then reasonable when I tell them that the Lord Jesus has been Invited to sit in the upholstered chair in front of both of them, such that He might help in resolving their issues. I ask them to never speak to each other but only to the Lord Jesus. Once this is understood, I then ask each of them, in turn, to describe to Jesus what the situation is. It is amazing how polite and pleasant people are when they are speaking to a chair in which the Lord Jesus is Sitting! There are virtually never any harsh words or anger in any comments, but instead quite carefully chosen and concise and clear descriptions of how each sees the situation. My function is in principle as a "referee" in case anyone would ever say anything that might not be appropriate in front of the Lord, but that never yet happened! My other function is to ask very simple questions, specifically "Please describe to the Lord the current situation", "Please describe to the Lord what changes you think would improve your situation" and "Please describe to the Lord what changes you are willing to make toward improving the situation" (in that order).
It has been astounding at how effective this has been! There are NO harsh words or nasty comments, and I have only rarely had to even say "Ummm" when someone started to say something that might not fully be respectful.
This is in contrast to the usual "evil looks" at each other, the accusations, the anger, and the rest that generally exist in a confrontational atmosphere of standard marital counseling sessions. And that "standard" approach rarely has the two leaving in much better mood or attitude than they came in, each often just wanting to have a chance to "vent" at the other!
There is no comparison between the two! Some couples leave arm-in-arm! I am not aware of any other Church that uses this approach, but I think they certainly should!
It is probably obvious how I morphed that into the Iraq solution concept, only now having two chairs for the Lord and Abraham, and not currently seeing any reason to provide "privacy screens" between the sects. That could always be added if desired.
Carl Johnson, Pastor,
A Christ Walk Church
BELIEVE Religious Information Source web-site http://mb-soft.com/believe/indexaz.html"