At least 18 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq since President George Bush declared major combat operations were over on 1 May.
Last week six British military policemen were killed in Majar al-Kabir in southern Iraq.
The US and the UK have said that restoring security remains a priority but they insist these attacks will not deter them or force a troop pull-out from Iraq.
What is the way forward for Iraq? How can law and order, especially in areas previously loyal to the old regime, be restored? How critical is the capture of Saddam Hussein to achieving this?
We discussed reconciliation and revenge in Iraq in our weekly phone-in radio programme, Talking Point. Our guests were Labour MP Ann Clwyd and former Iraqi foreign minister, Adnan Pachachi.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:
A huge part of the problem in Iraq is the way the world media is covering the events there; acting by the rule "bad news is good news". This only fuels the imagination of people who have not a clue what Iraq or the USA look like. The US and UK media are especially to blame for not helping their own soldiers with some balanced news.
Simeon Doytchinov, New York, USA
Order, if it is to be more than the previous order, can never be restored at gunpoint - least of all by the same countries who empowered, armed and bankrolled Saddam Hussein. Only when reconstruction is genuinely led by the world community will Iraqis have sufficient trust in the future.
Order can never be restored at gunpoint
To Frank, USA: The Russian bankrolled Saddam and the weapons sold were also Russian. The US did have decent relations with Iraq duing the Iran/Iraq war because they faced a common enemy, but once Saddam set his eye's on Kuwait the US made it clear that is was not going to accept that.
Houston, Texas USA
We don't know if the USA wants the situation to descend into anarchy or not. For instance, in the north of Iraq instead of increasing the number of checkpoints, all of them have been eliminated.
All the solutions that I've seen proposed on these pages, though doubtless well-meaning, are "western" solutions. Until people understand that Iraqis (and other races)a re not like us and don't want to be like us, we won't sort anything out. You would think that our politicians, with the hindsight of history, would know that you can't impose your culture on people that don't want it.
Dave Turner, Eastbourne U.K.
I am not an Iraqi or an Arab. If my country was invaded by the US and the British, I would like to be ruled by my own people even if the last regime is guilty of crimes against humanity or alleged WMD. The 'coalition of the willing' should hand over power to the UN to set up an interim government and then son afetr let the Iraqis elect a new government. Not a Puppet like the one in Afghanistan.
I am tired of non-Americans saying that Americans are blinded by their government. Excuse me, but we are just as clear as you are regarding current events and last time I checked, still free to make up our own minds and form our own opinions. And yes, the overwhelming majority of the American population did support this war and no, it wasn't because we were lied to and brainwashed by our government so I resent the comments stating otherwise! Before criticising my country, why don't you start focusing on improving your own?
The overwhelming majority of the American population did support this war
Jennifer Palmer, Salt Lake City, Utah
Jennifer Palmer, Salt Lake City, Utah
The US can help the process of establishing law and order by not further demonstrating its contempt for the Iraqi people. The current administration talks bombastically out of one side of its face about "freedom" and "democracy", while with the other, it dismisses the notion that Iraqis should elect an Iraqi government - on the grounds that it might be - perish the thought - influenced by Islam.
I. Smith ,
Peace can only return when U.S & British troops are evacuated.
Ibraheem Nurudeen, Offa, Nigeria.
I just received a letter from a friend stationed in Baghdad. He stated that, while it is a concern that there are small pockets of resistance, without a doubt the majority of the Iraqi population is grateful and thankful for the US and UK presence. He indicated the people are opening up their homes to the troops and bringing them food and friendship. He blames the media for portraying a scenario that does not accurately reflect what is happening day-to-day in most places. He also stated that many Iraqis have said that they will rest more comfortably if they hear that Saddam has been caught.
Without a doubt the majority of the Iraqi population is grateful and thankful for the US and UK presence
Kristen Lamb, New York, USA
Kristen Lamb, New York, USA
It's simple. Get the United Nations involved.
We should have sorted out the basics straight after the war: Power, water, supplies and sanitation. But no, it's a cock-up and the facilities are still down. We can't expect the Iraqis to simply accept occupation without improvement to their day to day lives. That said, in order to impose law and order, the murderers of the RMPs need to be found and prosecuted.
I do not believe it can, at least not for a long time to come. Our governments behave in a way that suggests they had not properly planned for a post-Saddam Iraq: and the longer our military stays in Iraq, the more obvious it becomes that we are an occupying force.
Craig, Swindon, England
We have removed their dictator - no more thousands of people vanishing or being tortured by Iraqi secret police.. There is free expression and no rigged elections. Newspapers and TV are free from state speeches. No more money pouring into private palaces or luxuries which are out of the reach of the masses. People can start afresh; choose how to develop their future. You can't tell me that the killing of six British soldiers was caused by a local misunderstanding! Where I live we resolve misunderstandings by dialogue and diplomacy. Is that too much to ask? Maybe we should find Saddam and reinstate him as it seems that the Iraqis have such a short memory. Rome wasn't built in a day.
It seems that the Iraqis have such a short memory
Mark Jones, Madrid
It is sad that the coalition forces had failed to offer to the Iraqi people what the previous regime managed to after the 1991 war. Only strong, local new government can prevent another human tragedy (wheather it is Vietnam or Afghanistan).
First, I think the Iraqis need to see an Iraqi government as soon as possible. They don't trust the US because of their previous experience in 1991, and because of the sanctions "imposed" by US for the last 13 years. These have left the Iraqis distrustful. Iraqis need people they can communicate with and they need a government. It's not enough to lock up the bad guys. Second, choose a peaceful city in the south or north of the country and start the reconstruction process. This will show that the coalition forces are not there for the oil but for the benefit of Iraqis. I really do not think capturing Saddam matters.
They don't trust the US because of their previous experience in 1991
Order cannot be restored until the war ends. I don't recall the Iraq regime either surrendering or agreeing to a cease-fire.
David Haworth, Germany
Order will get restored in Iraq; currently there are elements, be they those loyal to Saddam or outside forces, which do not want to see the US succeed. No one ever said it would be easy but the US will hold true to our word and not leave Iraq until reconstruction and a true political process is put into place to represent all Iraqi people. Again the US does not want to stay a day longer than need be, but we will see this process through to the end.
No one ever said it would be easy
John Crane, Houston, Texas USA
John Crane, Houston, Texas USA
It is the blind faith of Utopians who believe Western values can be exported force. The US is terrified that if they pull out, the new Iraqi regime will be an Islamic government hostile to Israel and the US. But if they stay, the killing of US troops will simply continue and the whole operation will be hugely expensive with little return.
The Iraqis have to do this. Right now the US is operating an Israeli style occupation. It is human nature to fight against occupiers. So when they do, the US cracks down making the problem worse. The US says it doesn't want to rule Iraq then confiscates the weapons of the Iraqi people preventing them from taking control of the situation.
Order will be restored when an Iraqi police force is in place and the US is out.
Order will be restored when an Iraqi police force is in place and the US is out
The US needs reinforce their presence and stay until a stable representative government is formed and internal security is established. Only then will the Iraqis have the option of governing themselves. This option would not even exist if the coalition left now. The arrival of multinational troops will ease the anti-US sentiment and add legitimacy to the operation. Withdrawal by the coalition now would reduce the country to civil.
Tristan, London, UK
I am afraid that it is going to take an iron fist to rule Iraq for a few years before the country is stable enough for the people to rule themselves. First though some civil order needs to be imposed. It may be offensive to some but order isn't going to come by itself.
Some civil order needs to be imposed
Perhaps we should try treating them like real people. Rather than going round pointing guns telling them what to do we should get them to select the administration and let them decide which way they want their country to go. This would then give us more time to fix the damage we have created and backup their new administration.
America simply is not popular in Arab and Muslim lands. Had Bush got his priorities right, and sought solutions to the Israel-Palestine conflict first, he wouldn't be facing such a hostile population in Iraq, or, for that matter, the rest of the world.
Jon E, France
How could the coalition not expect such lawlessness and disorder? You just have to look to the old Soviet bloc countries to see what happens when you remove an oppressive regime. The energy of the people is like a coil released. Did they not expect this or did they just not care?
Kay Mulford, Stockport, England
The US and UK have no credibility left in Iraq. Fairly or unfairly, they are seen as an army of occupation, even by the moderates who want to move on. The only solution now is for a UN led interim administration and security organisation that would have global support, while allowing the Iraqis to create the type of government that they want, instead of the one that Bush wants. I suspect that the future structure of Iraq will have to be federal. However, that is only my opinion and the final answer is up to the Iraqi people.
The only solution now is for a UN led interim administration
Andy Tilt, Banbury, U.K.
It is very simple. Law and order can only be restored when the invaders led by the USA leave Iraq. Whatever credibility the occupying force has left is diminishing by the day. I keep hearing from Washington and London that it might take years before they leave Iraq for Iraqis.
Urgent action is now needed. A new representative council should be created to reflect the diverse political views and religions to take executive decisions at a national level. The US administrator should be accountable to such a body to give Iraqis confidence that they will soon be running their own country. A new United Nations force should take over as quickly as possible to provide security whilst the Iraqi Police and Army services are retrained and strengthened. Until ordinary Iraqis see real improvements in basic public services and believe that there the US and UK will be formally withdrawing their forces then the violence will continue.
Urgent action is now needed
Paul Marsden MP,
Paul Marsden MP,
The Americans and the British wanted this war and now they will have to put up with the consequences. The Americans refer to the resistance fighters as terrorists! Sorry Mr Rumsfeld, but these are Iraqis in their own country fighting against an occupying army and no matter what spin you try to put on it that is a fact. Get out of Iraq now and allow the UN to sort the mess you have created out. If you don't it will be only a matter of time and bodies of more dead soldiers before your own public opinion forces you to.
Denis O'Sullivan, Carrigaline, Cork, Ireland
Democracy is not an item for export - it is something each people must attain by themselves.
The Iraqi experience is, unfortunately , yet another example that shows this to an non-understanding "civilized" world.
Democracy is not an item for export
It increasingly looks like that the liberation force, in reality is becoming an occupation force. Something a lot of people stated in the first place. Support for President Bush about this occupation is wavering, 56% in favour, as of July 1st - we'll have to wait and see what the Americans think at the end of, say August. What the rest of the world thinks, is pretty clear.
Hans, Benidorm, Spain
Law and order can only be restored by deploying either the United Nations forces or the Arab League forces and the Coalition forces must get out from Iraq immediately because the coalition forces, especially, the American soldiers have no more credibility as far as the Iraqis are concerned. The earlier the American soldiers get out from Iraq, the better for them. There will be fewer casualties for them. They will never win a guerrilla war. If they stay longer they will face a lot of hatred among the Iraqi people.
Of course Saddam capture would change the way the Iraqis see the Americans. But I find it easy to say, that the attacks against the Anglo-American forces are organised by Saddam supporters. There is a word for it, when you fight against the occupation of your country, whether you are a Saddam supporter, a cleric, an Islamist, a normal citizen, you are resisting. So let's call this by its name: resistance. Less opaqueness and more openness, and a UN sponsored international forces (with Arab countries) will be recognized by the Iraqis, not the US/UK armies.
JC Coucou, Spain
There must be stability before the Iraqis can have democracy. I do not believe that the current skimpy coalition forces can create stability. International peacekeeping forces and more importantly civil administrators must be activated. The Iraqis need qualified and experienced nation builders to improve their standards of living. Once Iraqis see improved standards of living and the gradual redistribution of power to Iraqi officials then law and order will become permanent.
I do not believe that the current skimpy coalition forces can create stability
Greg Penza, Wasington D.C., USA
Greg Penza, Wasington D.C., USA
The Iraqis see the UK and US forces as an occupation force. The excessive bombing which caused terrible loss of life but still did not achieve its aim, is not being forgiven for one moment. Only the swift removal of the UK and US forces from the country will allow the people to find some sort of structure and order in which to rebuild their damaged country, with necessary help from the occupying forces engineers, and those brought in at the expense of the UK and US, who must not expect one word of thanks for whatever they do.
I'm sure many in the UK and US would prefer their troops not be put in harm's way, but the world is too small to withdraw and hope for the best. Order can be restored by confiscating weapons, clamping down on insurgents, and allowing the rest of the peace-loving populace to get on with their lives.
We must bring in the UN to help restore law and order. They are more equipped in peacetime operations than the US and UK armies. Also a UN presence lessens any neo-colonial paranoia the Iraqis feel towards our motives.
Bring in the UN to help restore law and order
Roberto, Boston, MA USA
Who said this war was over and won? This is only the beginning. Occupation or installation of a puppet government will not work. The situation increasingly looks to me like another Beirut.
Abdul G, London
How can order be restored? Simple! Get the invading troops out of Iraq and stop trying to steal its wealth.
Can you really be surprised by the Iraqi resistance?
Capturing Saddam and bringing him to justice is the only method; it will end civil unrest in Iraq and stop Saddam loyalists from carrying out their terrorist acts against the coalition forces and from destroying Iraq's infrastructure. The other method which will partially restore order is capturing these criminals from the Baath party and Fedayeen and prosecuting them and applying capital punishment for those responsible for committing murder. This will deter the rest from committing their crimes.
Capturing Saddam and bringing him to justice is the only method
Farid, Baghdad, Iraq
I think order could be restored if the Americans try to restore basic needs in Iraq and also make plans to permanently remove themselves out of a place where clearly they are not wanted.
Antonio, Sydney Australia.
Measures for the way forward in Iraq should include the appointment via tribal elders or communities of a representative police and security force for local areas. Also required are the disarming of all citizens, apart from authorised military, government and security personnel, and the development of a Bill of Rights for all Iraqis, by Iraqis and the removal of discrimination and nepotism. The principal objective is to get social infrastructure to a standard that will enable Iraqis to determine their own future. All citizens, regardless of tribal or sexual affiliation, to be treated with equality and dignity.
Peter, Forrestfield Australia
The US and UK must do everything possible to swiftly put into place a process for the Iraqi people to form their own government. A continued foreign military presence in Iraq will only inflame the situation.
A continued foreign military presence in Iraq will only inflame the situation
Roger, Peoria, IL, USA
Very simple: US and UK invaders, out! Let the UN take charge in order to organise free elections, in which all Iraqis may participate. Once the new government is in office, the UN should withdraw immediately.
Gonzalo Vásquez, Santiago, Chile
First we have to ask, whose law? Whose order? History shows time and time again that sending foreign armies to destroy and build up a country works only under the most particular circumstances, and these certainly don't apply in Iraq.
Whose law? Whose order?
Simon O'Brien, UK
How long did it take to establish democracy in Germany after WWII? Or Japan? Or, indeed, in any country that has been liberated from a dictatorship or totalitarian government. The Iraqis seem to be labouring under the delusion that a couple of weeks after Saddam is deposed, they can start having elections.
This is a mess. These people apparently were happier under the rule of an inhumane dictator. For what purpose should American and British blood be spilled? Cut our losses, depart and let things take their own course as they should have in the first place. There was no threat here.
Mike, Denver, USA
The US concept of justice and law and order is understandably a hard one for the Iraqi people to grasp coming as it does from a country that wilfully ignores the authority of the most powerful institutions in the world including the United Nations and the International Court.
Iain Harper, UK
I think we have to look at the bigger picture. One day, Iraq will probably be one of the most powerful and wealthy countries in the Middle East. The sooner the Iraqi people come together and stop squabbling amongst themselves, the sooner they can work together to rule themselves and the American and British will be only too happy to leave. It is sad that the world could not do anything in the 10 years we applied sanctions and in that time killed hundreds of thousands of people. The world turned a blind eye and did not want to know what was going on. As they say "you reap what you sow" and the world reaped this disaster by not doing anything constructive. Let us get on with rebuilding Iraq.
We have to look at the bigger picture
Simon Roberts, UK
It is all very well all this talk of war crimes trials, but hasn't the USA themselves applied for exemption from prosecution by the new International Criminal Court? You can't enforce laws you don't abide by yourselves!
John, Manchester UK
It's OK saying the Iraqi's should decide their own future, but this can only be done when law and order is restored. We must support the Coalition troops doing a difficult job.
Simon G., London UK
There is a general feeling among the people of discomfort and annoyance. The one solution seems to be an early election and then let Iraq be ruled by its own people democratically.
The one solution seems to be an early election
Parts of the coalition need to work together across Iraq, rather than being divided into separate areas as with post-war Germany. This is a very different situation, with terrorism obviously a very real threat, and requires specialists from outside Iraq training Iraqis to actively and covertly root out elements of the Ba'athist regime, as well as work in re-building. Only when the Iraqis see that fellow Iraqis are doing something, then they will be encouraged to work together. I believe that, for this reason, contracts should only go to non-Iraqi organisations in a training and short-term work capacity, terminating when there are sufficient locals qualified for the task.
M Fullen, UK
I am a British Iraqi. The best way is to arrest the Ba'athists by using the help of local people who know who those troublemakers are. There are so many Ba'athist criminals who support Saddam Hussain still free.
The best way is to arrest the Ba'athists by using the help of local people
We all hope for the Iraqi judicial system to be robust enough to offer the sense of empowerment to ordinary Iraqis so that their police (with coalition help) can bring criminals to justice and that their judges and their jurors (made up of Iraqi nationals) can try and sentence them.
US and UK forces continued occupation of Iraq is like a red rag to a bull and while they remain attacks will continue indefinitely.
It is time to pull out the troops and allow the Iraqis to elect their own government - not have US pick a puppet for them!
It is time to pull out the troops and allow the Iraqis to elect their own government
The war is now over; the forces are not peacekeepers, but rather an occupying force with "good intentions". The job of peacekeeping should be passed over to the United Nations. With the US and British forces remaining as victors, the job is more or less impossible, as comments from Iraqi citizens are now showing. However, I do believe that the US is trying to protect that which they hold dear to them: oil. The UN should move in (which incidentally includes the UK and US).
Stuart Hurst, Wigan, Lancashire
After all the lives lost on both sides it is time for all the Arab nations to step in and help restore order. The most significant barrier is language. Invite the Arabs to help restore the country and stop the minority spreading disinformation which the troops on the ground cannot fight. The ordinary soldier cannot understand what is being said and the ordinary Iraqi cannot understand the soldiers. All they see in the main is another set of rulers who they cannot speak to or approach.
All they see in the main is another set of rulers who they cannot speak to or approach
Judging by the casualties, the coalition forces are suffering. It is time that the strategies were changed to deal with Saddam loyalists. There is no question of reconciliation. The previous regime should be brought to justice and the Iraqis who have faced brutalities should have a final say in the decision. The U.N in consultation with developed countries should build a new and strong Iraq.
Syed Hanif Ahmed,
The only positive way forward is through dialogue and interaction with the population. It is more important to restore basic services; things that people can immediately feel and appreciate. Force may satisfy an immediate emotional need, but the price is to be paid not by those of us sitting comfortably at home, but the young men who probably don't understand why they're there.
It is more important to restore basic services
Barry B, UK
Perhaps a way to at least reduce attacks against US and British troops and in so doing restore a bit of order is to have a multinational force with more countries involved. US detractors would then have to find other arguments than just invoking US colonialism. After all, people must realise that this time the US decided to stay on after the conflict, just like in Afghanistan. What would people have said if they had left right after defeating Iraq's Army?
Gilles, Geneva, Switzerland
The only way to restore law and order in Iraq is for an Iraqi police force and an independent court system to be established. It would need to be made of people not connected with the Baath regime and Saddam.
I feel that a similar system to one in Northern Ireland would work - where the new Iraqi police would patrol the streets with US or British military escorts until law and order has been restored fully.
I also think that a new constitution needs to be in place to make this work.
The priority is to get an Iraqi administration in place, as free from corruption and efficient as possible with dependable services. Having some successes in this direction and announcing free elections might defuse a lot of the energy currently going into angry protests. Time is not on the side of the US.
Toby Joyce, Dublin, Ireland
The coalition has to understand that the situation will not change with the capture of Saddam. Saddam or no Saddam, the Iraqis hate the presence of the Americans and the British on their soil.
The situation will not change with the capture of Saddam
Farozan, Toronto, Canada
Order will be restored; the Iraqis will find their own way of doing it.? The first step is within the grasp of the "Coalition of the willing"; the US and the British governments should now be "willing" to get out. That, by all accounts, is the will of the Iraqi people. The longer the "Coalition" stays in Iraq the greater the chances of making Washington's former puppet, Saddam, a hero. That will be such a tragedy!
Aristides Garcia, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The simple fact is that the US does not understand the culture or history of Iraq. This is a different worldview we are dealing with. What may work in the streets of America will not work in the streets of Iraq. The only way forward is to organise general elections and accept the outcome. Iraq is for the Iraqis. Let them decide what their future will be.
What may work in the streets of America will not work in the streets of Iraq
Is there anyone speaking to the Iraqi people and asking them why there are there these shootings, or what sort of country they would like to live in ? This would be the 'bottom up' rather than 'top down' approach currently being put forward.
Obviously with the American and British casualties recently I don't think it wise to let anyone from the previous government to even have the smallest part in the new Iraq. I do like the fact that the US has decided to go after the pockets of resistance and try to stave off any more US casualties. Enough is enough. I think putting on trial all members of Saddam's government for their crimes against humanity is a good idea.
Mr Sandy Clark, San Francisco, USA
I am an Iraqi living here in UK since 1996. I have witnessed and heard countless stories of different kinds of torture, killing, and rape. believe that any high ranking individual in the previous Iraqi regime must be put on trial. The idea if reconciliation will only inflame Iraqis who have lost loved ones. So far the coalition forces have done a good job, so please do not spoil it by letting murderers get away with it. Iraq had witnessed the most awful human rights breaches in the recent history of the world, so how can anybody talk about reconciliation?
How can anybody talk about reconciliation?
As an Iraqi who is hoping for a better future for the people of Iraq, I think that those who ran the regime for Saddam should go through some kind of trial. This is necessary for the people involved to clear their conscious and rehabilitate themselves so they can become good citizens again.
All members of the Baath Party guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity should be tried and executed, either by an international court or by the Iraqi people themselves. The old regime must be held accountable to its people in order to set an example to others who might try to imitate it.
Iraq does not need another drop of blood spilled on its soil. South Africa showed us all how it can be done so let's learn.
What Iraq needs is justice. Neither revenge nor reconciliation are appropriate. Iraq also needs education, talented administrators and patience. Asking the UN to ensure or to provide justice is a fantasy. If the UN was truly capable of achieving such things it wouldn't be the vast hot air factory it is today.
Asking the UN to ensure or to provide justice is a fantasy
If an individual has committed crimes against humanity, he or she should be indicted and tried by international courts. The US, the UK or an Iraqi government should not be empowered to prosecute or absolve whole groups on the basis of political expediency.
It is the duty of the victors, U.S. and Britain, to hold war crimes trials not the Iraqis.
Monty Clarke, Seattle USA
Top Monty Clark: No, it is the duty of the Iraqis to hold tribunals. They were the ones tortured and killed. Let them judge what should be done with the Ba'ath. It is their right, because it is their country.
Everybody who had anything to do with mass torture, murder, cruelty, brutality should be brought to trial and punished. No one should get away with carrying out such inhumane acts, and to give them amnesty would just encourage all the other dictators. These are some of the worst crimes committed on the planet.
No one should get away with carrying out such inhumane acts
It's important that any investigation of human rights abuses should include abuses committed by anyone, including the US and British forces. If Ann Clwyd is looking at human rights abuses in Iraq for the British government, her mandate should not have a cut-off date. There are still crimes being committed.
Alistair Wilson, London, UK
This whole fiasco has nothing to do with liberty. Occupying forces are telling Iraqis what to do. Do we really have the nerve to demand them to rebuild their land after three terrible wars and fourteen years of economic sanctions? Nobody understands what life must be like for them.
Occupying forces are telling Iraqis what to do
The key senior people who followed Saddam's orders should be bought to justice. It should no longer be acceptable to hide behind the 'I was just following orders' line. It is this principle that keeps dictatorships going.
These people should be brought to justice, in the name of the people who said no and were murdered.
This would send a clear message to the oppressive regimes around the world; you will pay for crimes against humanity. There is a time to move on but this is not it.
These people should be brought to justice
Why not let the Iraqi decide for themselves? In fact it is none of our business.
Andree Tougas, Nice, France
Only the Iraqi people can decide the fate of Baathists. The invading powers have no right to execute or imprison them.
Only the Iraqi people can decide the fate of Baathists
Aamir, Karachi, Pakistan
As an Iraqi, I agree with those who say let's penalise senior Baathist figures who committed massacres against Iraqis. But not all Baathist members willingly joined that party. In fact, to take up an ordinary position in any government office you had to sign for them. I think we had enough of killings, wars and executions. Let's build a new Iraq full of peace, truth and reconciliation. By the way, I was not a member of that party!!
The faster Iraqis unify for their future, allowing the past to die and their future reborn - the faster they'll dismantle the US/UK invasion. Allow the international courts to try individuals, not groups. Bush should appear for war crimes first. Otherwise Bush/Blair will continue this 'I'll be the judge, I'll be the jury' press routine.
Bush/Blair will continue this 'I'll be the judge, I'll be the jury' routine
Cambridge, MA, USA
Revenge between Iraqis ethnic groups and social background is inevitable because it is a natural call. Reconciliation is a means to move forward but under what umbrella can this happen?
The occupiers are unqualified to broker reconciliation; the internal parties do not have a common platform for such a forum. The UK and US leadership arrogance is not humble enough to go back to the UN and request the international community to take its responsibility.
Dar es Salaam,
The theme of this debate is ill-timed. You should be discussing an exit strategy for the US-led coalition. I don't think anybody watching this whole thing is thinking about reconciliation or war crimes. How does an occupier do war crimes trials while dodging bullets?
Joseph E. Odiase,
Reconciliation, if possible. Revenge only exacerbates the situation. Some people here are writing according to their own political agendas, some of which only reinforces violence. I get the impression some writers even hope that things will go wrong for the coalition and they will get egg on their faces. They are not interested in peace for Iraqi people but just persist in their own anti-coalition attitudes. I hope and pray things will work for peace in Iraq.
Wellington, New Zealand
The rules under Saddam were that one had to register in the Baath party to get employment; it was like joining a workers union, that's all. So this is an excuse America is using to prolong their stay in Iraq, as their next move is either to subdue Iran or attack their nuclear facilities.
One had to register in the Baath party to get employment; it was like a workers' union
Anwer, planet earth
How many mass gravesites and torture chambers must be found before it's generally realised that there must be thousands of Iraqis with bloodsoaked hands? To not try these individuals for their crimes against humanity would be immoral and profoundly unhealthy for Iraq and the whole world.
David J Crook, Coatesville, PA, US
Reconciliation with whom? People may make mistakes accidentally and those can be forgiven. But those who made mistakes against others by belief or ideology are guilty and must be tried otherwise humanity would never learn from its history. Reconciliation is wonderful thing to
do but the reality is too hard to permitted in all circumstances is hard.
When Saddam invaded Kuwait, the new masters asked all Kuwaiti civil service and ministries workers to report to duty within one week of occupation! Like it or not but the old oligarchy is needed for a smooth transition of power. Many in Iraq do not doubt the sincerity of Paul Bremer, yet they pity him for the task set before him.
Several of the old Baathists have many of the much-needed skills
Suhaib Ahmed, UK (Iraqi born)
Sincerity alone is not enough, Iraq need the tools and manpower with the know-how. Several of the old Baathists have many of the much-needed skills. Let us have reconciliation for those who were misled and reserve proper unbiased trials for serious offenders like Saddam and his sons.
Suhaib Ahmed, UK (Iraqi born)
Historic precedents in post-WW2 Germany and Japan indicate that a successful reconstruction was only possible because most of the old elites, who were closely tied in with the defeated regimes, were allowed to keep their old jobs and to work for the new country. It may be difficult to stomach, but this pragmatic approach works best.
Chris, Zürich, Switzerland
Truth and reconciliation is definitely better for the Iraqis. But do the US and UK and other countries want to reveal the truth about their relations with the Baath ruling party since 1968? It would help Iraq to reconcile with other countries.
Do the US and UK want to reveal the truth about their relations with the Baath party?
Dr Naseer Nuaman,
Dr Naseer Nuaman,
Iraq needs strict and harsh control for several years. Two things are at work that make this absolutely necessary: The retrograde "strong man" macho Arab/Islamic culture and the years of pent up frustration now being unleashed. Iraq is not ready or capable of handling democracy without a "very strong" hand to guide it. There should be a temporary ban on all public protests. Universal education and the elevation of the status of women is an absolute necessity.
John, New Jersey, USA
What Americans propose (including some of them writing in this page), is more or less to eradicate Arabic culture. Therefore, reconciliation between Iraq and US is not possible. Even Caesar was not as narrowminded as that: he knew invaders have to accept local culture, in order to fully control a country.
The second and third level of Iraqis should be given a chance for running and rebuilding Iraq. Simply, these people are the only ones who know how to run it, since Iraq had no systematic management of any kind in any sector of the state. Only the people who ran the show before can do something about running it now. The senior Baathists and those who committed crimes HAVE to be tried. No conciliation should be considered. Forgiving these people is to approve the same crimes in the future.
Forgiving these people is to approve the same crimes in the future
Rashid Kittani, Arbil, Iraq
Iraq was the centre of the highly advanced and civilised Islamic civilisation for hundred of years. Now it is but the focal point of conflict and hatred. What a pity.
Amir Hassan-Ebrahimi, Iran
If you stop those who worked for the old regime from working in the new one then you will need to ban half of the population from having anything to do with the new government. As for trials of those guilty of crimes against humanity, I do not understand how Americans get to have a say in this if there country refuse to accept trials for Americans who are accused of crimes against humanity.
Wadshae, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
This issue of reconciliation or revenge is not a top priority for the Iraqis. This brutal occupation is the ultimate issue. Iraqis should not be distracted by these imperialists' games of conquer and divide.
I find it ironic that the US, after supporting the Baath regime when it committed those crimes, should now call for justice. If justice is to be done, than Cheney and Rumsfeld ought to share the dock with Saddam.
The new international court for war crimes should try all people that were involved in war crimes in Iraq , Baathists (and their American sponsors), American and British forces that have waged war on Iraq and those that were responsible for the harsh economic sanctions of 12 years that have proved to be the largest WMD yet in Iraq thus far.
The new international court for war crimes should try Baathists and American and British forces
I think the US moves are all about reconciliation and not revenge looking at the efforts it has committed in Iraq.
Uche Chukwuonye, Nigeria
I think this issue of reconciliation or revenge against the Baathists is a big smoke screen being used by the occupying leadership while they set up free enterprise zones for the oil industry giants.
Jody Robinson, Florida, USA
A reconciliation process is the best way forward. As an Iraqi Kurd, I think we can achieve this in the same manner South Africa dealt with its ugly past. However, the Iraqi truth and reconciliation committee should look at all who had participated, by direct involvement, by proxy, by association or by merely doing nothing while watching the horrors of mass killings. The committee will need to look into the role of countries such as Britain which unashamedly dispatched its highest trade delegation ever to Iraq two days after the gassing of Kurds in Halabjah.
And Germany which had supplied Iraq with torture tools.
We should first establish by proper forensic and legal procedures that there have actually been some crimes, and what their nature and extent is. So far, the allegation of large-scale killings has no more been substantiated than has that of WMD, yet it has found the same unquestioning acceptance.
The site seemingly most credible as a "mass grave" is the one at al Mahawil, and even it has been very carelessly handled both in exhumation and reporting. Initial "fears" of 15,000 interred there have been repeated ever since as established fact. All other reports follow similar patterns of only a few unidentified remains actually found, extrapolated to "fears" of many more. Please, first an open-minded investigation.
Clara, Kentucky, USA
I think its premature to have this debate. What is first needed is security and a retrained Iraqi police force. At the same time electricity, running water, food and medicine must become regularly available to all Iraqis. All of the nations that opposed the war should pitch in on this effort, as adding an international face will reduce the danger to the American and British soldiers who risked their lives to free 30 million people living under the boot of a maniac.
While these projects are well underway, some simple patience is required on the part of outsiders. Once this is achieved the Iraqis will naturally be able to make decisions for themselves but we must not abandon them before security and renewed hope is available to these people.
Brad Londin, NYC, USA
Revenge is not the answer; this could lead to the replacement of one dictator with another dictator thus perpetuating push-pull dictatorship.
The Iraqis should emulate what South Africa did: "Truth and reconciliation". It is time to build a united Iraq that would guarantee the rights, liberties and freedom of all. After all during the just ended war every Iraqi suffered in one way or the other. Contrition, repentance and forgiveness are what they need if the country is to survive.
The world needs peace, so does Iraq.
The world need peace so does Iraq
Mahatma Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye will turn the whole world blind." The Anglo-American forces will have to work towards reconciliation by leaving their guns behind and tending to the needs of the Iraqi populace.
Melanie Kumar, Bangalore, India
The US and Britain played a big role in empowering
Saddam. How else could he and his party have committed such crimes? Who do you think provided the chemical weapons to Saddam in order to exterminate the Kurds in the north?
I wonder who should really be on trial?
The Iraqis should exact revenge on these responsible. They slaughtered so many innocent people and forced the Iraqi people into three wars.
Kareem Abdul Jabar,
Los Alamos, USA
Revenge will only lead to a vicious cycle of violence that will replay itself over and over again. First it is important for the Iraqis to accept the fact that Saddam is no longer the president and that the Americans are the ones in control of the country. This will enable them participate openly and fully in the rebuilding process rather than carrying out bandit activities which will not achieve anything meaningful to their cause.
James Otieno, Nairobi, Kenya
I find the topic of this discussion loaded; using "revenge" instead of "justice". Simply not forgiving someone does not equate vengeance. If justice is called for (which in this case it most certainly is - genocide is unforgivable), then let justice be done in a court of law.
Simply not forgiving someone does not equate vengeance
Miguel, San Diego/Tijuana, US/Mexico border
Miguel, San Diego/Tijuana, US/Mexico border
It still seems that the Baathists can strike against those who oppose them. I don't know whether they will ever be fully vulnerable to any legal process. The US/UK had walked into a West Bank type occupation. In general, Iraqis don't want Westerners running their country and trying their citizens. An Iraqi nationalist force will perpetuate a low intensity quagmire situation for the US/UK occupying forces.
Revenge on Baathists will only lead to a cycle of violence which will delay peace and stabilization of Iraq. The truth and reconciliation process worked well in South Africa and should at least be tried. Having UN peacekeepers instead of US occupiers would help the situation as well.
The truth and reconciliation process worked well in South Africa and should at least be tried.
Bob Sapp, Columbia, Missouri, USA
Bob Sapp, Columbia, Missouri, USA
The greatest danger is that atrocities conducted against human rights and freedoms will end up being worse under any new regime, left to itself. The purge of the Baathist czars leads to the rise of the equivalent of Stalinist Bolshevik horrors, is a possible scenario.
Reconciliation is the best idea, because Iraqis do need most of the individual who used to run Iraq for Saddam and they were forced to commit crimes otherwise they would have been killed by him.
Tony Bilal, Mexico
Revenge against whom? The Baathist criminals or the oil thirsty criminals?
Cheikh Diop, Dakar, Senegal
I do not see a role for the Baath in the future of Iraq. They ruled through intimidation, mass-murder, severe ethnic persecution, clan ties, brainwashing propaganda, and nearly constant warfare against Iraq's neighbours. Much like the Nazi party, corruption and brutality saturated the Baath party from top to bottom. The Baath party members must have NO part in the future of the country if Iraq is ever to live up to the freedom and prosperity which it most surely has the potential for.
I do not see a role for the Baath in the future of Iraq
Scott Gebhardt, USA
A truly free and fair election should be facilitated and the elected government allowed to rule the country. Sadly, history shows that in Africa, it was merely the colour of the dictator that changed. A truth and reconciliation commission will at least help bring closure to the surviving relatives of missing people. Those who can be proved guilty of inhumane actions should certainly be prosecuted!
I strongly believe in reconciliation. Some of the Iraqis were forced to commit crimes against humanity under the Saddam's dictatorship. They should be forgiven and their creative energy should be utilised to build the country.
The only way ahead is reconciliation. Revenge can have no part in the future of Iraq if Iraq is to have a future. A 'road map' similar to the one being implemented in Israel, encompassing all parties, should be drawn up as soon as possible. This MUST include former members of the Baath party. If they are left out, they will be a thorn in the side in all attempts to rebuild the country. Of course those responsible for crimes against humanity should be brought to justice, but that does not mean every person who was loyal to Saddam Hussein.
Helmond, The Netherlands
I think that the Baathist officials who were actually involved in committing the terrible crimes against the Iraqi people should be tried and punished. But this should happen in an independent court, not in the USA. Those Baathists who weren't involved should play a role in Iraq for it is their country too. Anyway, what right does the rest of the world have to decide the future of the Iraqi people?
What right does the rest of the world have to decide the future of the Iraqi people?
Natasha Saunders, Meylan, France
Natasha Saunders, Meylan, France
To Natasha Saunders of France : Vanquishing evil and the establishment of a free and peaceful existence for all mankind should be considered an obligation of free men everywhere. In a land where people have never known freedom, adjusting to freedom is difficult and nearly impossible without the guidance and the protection of those newly found liberties. A return to dictatorship would surely follow in an Iraq summarily deserted by its liberators. As to her belief that the Baathists should be allowed to take part in government, you cannot allow the fox to command the hen house.
Jerry Moore, Macon, Georgia, USA
Since the war is not justified, control should be handed back to the Baathists as they are the major political movement in Iraq. It's highly unlikely that they will support Saddam back to power. Refusing this will just cause more casualties among British and US soldiers. There was no justification so leave!
Pierre Beerkens, Netherlands
The best bet is for a truth and reconciliation commission similar to the one in South Africa. Some of these Iraqis who are now being accused of crimes, if care is taken to look into their actions, might have been coerced into committing these crimes, going by the nature of the Saddam government then. It will be improper therefore to try such people for committing any crime at all.
Abdur-Rashid F. Oye, Abuja, Nigeria
It is not just the Baath Party and former officials who have a problem with credibility and confidence building. The British-American coalition and other allied partners have a similar problem in a bastion of anti-western extremism. Not because westerners are bad. But, because of cross-currents of rival religions, opposing cultures, ethnic nationalism and other combustible elements that have compounded the situation where reconstruction and rehabilitation should have been the primary priority now.
Instead, reconciliation has become an overriding
challenge. Revenge is a dangerous option
to pursue right now.
The coalition partners should present themselves as a
neutral force and agent of liberation, freedom and democracy
which they really are but has not been
fully perceived by all Iraqi people.
The only people who should decide how the country should be run, and who is guilty or innocent must be the Iraqis.
It is their country and they must be given a free hand in who runs it.
It is their country
Albert Frohike, Victoria, Canada
Albert Frohike, Victoria, Canada
The Baathist tortured and murdered millions of people - people who are survived by friends and relatives. How can the people left behind by the victims trust a government that includes Baathist officials? If Iraqis want to forgive and forget, they are bigger people than I but I don't see how it is possible.
Jim, USA SA
Right now the most dangerous act for Iraq's future is to withdraw the British and US forces out of Iraq. I am from the neighbouring country Iran and the ethnic combination of Iraq is so complex. Kurds, Shiah and Suni, they hate each other and it's because Kurds and Shiah were considered second class citizens in Saddam's time. If Iraq is left in Iraqi hands, the country will turn into a blood bath.
Iraq should be run by Iraqis.
This is so that people will not say that America is ruling the country because of its oil.
Oluwanbe Shpoade, Mushin, Lagos, Nigeria
There are examples from old communist systems where the ex-communists have adjusted well into democratic life. Baathism is somewhat different and there is no previous model so one should be very cautious admitting the old regime people into assumed democracy if we can call the American forced system a democracy at all. The local understanding of life is full of dangers for a western observer or enforcer. Completely different values apply and may be lurking around the corner despite apparent submission that is the correct word in current situation.
Completely different values apply
This is really a moot point. The Iraqis will be given no choice on how to handle members of the previous regime, just as they are being given no choice in how they will be governed. The US and UK are occupying powers, not liberators.
It depends on who they are and what they were directly responsible for doing. Someone who spent his days torturing Saddam Hussein's victims, or the person who gave the order to do it, is different from a filing clerk who is a Baathist on paper only because it's a requirement to get the job. Those who had a hand in the crimes should be punished. The rest should be judged on their merits for the job they would be doing.
Jeremy, Edmonton, Canada
How can people living in the 'West' have any idea how to answer this question? It is for Iraqis, not us, to judge their history.
James Davey, UK
I agree with Jack, USA that the Baathists should be treated the same way the Nazis were, but I also feel that those who waged the illegal war and their post-war crimes should also be treated on equal footing. This problem can be solved only if the US administration sheds its hypocrisy, stops fooling its people as well as the whole world and allows the UN to take over.
The situation should be dealt with in the same manner as the Nazis were dealt with after WWII. The ideology must be eradicated and true leaders and criminals of the regime must be punished. Lower level officials who complied out of fear for their lives should be permitted to play a role in the new Iraq.