One thing that strikes me about the current situation in Iraq is the helplessness of our politicians and leaders. Everybody agrees that things are going horribly wrong, but nobody seems to have even a tentative strategy to make the situation better. So here is an idea that I think will make things better, if not stop the civil war entirely. It’s shockingly simple: Take the weapons away.

The plan will go as follows: America imposes a new law on the Iraqi government stating that from now on it will be illegal for anyone in Iraq to own, carry, sell or buy any kind of firearm or explosive. Anyone violating this law will serve a mandatory prison term of one week and pay a $300 fine. The only people in Iraq allowed to carry weapons will be the U.S. army, the Iraqi army and other ID-carrying government officials.

The new law will be announced across Iraq and the government will announce a one-month deadline for civilians to turn in all weapons. Officials will buy back the weapons and if they’re in working condition use them to equip the Iraqi army. Once the deadline has passed, the borders will be sealed and U.S. checkpoints all over the country will continuously be searching for weapons.

The buyback program should continue indefinitely, and people bringing in weapons should not be fined. I believe that the sheer abundance of weapons in Iraq is a major part of the problem. The absence of easily available firearms will improve the security situation immensely.

Now let’s discuss some arguments against this plan. The first one is that it may seem impossible to enforce. I don’t think so. The joint forces of the American and Iraqi armies will have the power to control the country enough to make it difficult to trade or own weapons. Of course, it will never be possible to completely abolish all arms, but the increased security might have a snowball effect and fewer people will have a reason to own weapons at all.

The second argument against the plan might be that regular people who give up their weapons will be defenseless against radicals who keep theirs. This argument doesn’t hold for two reasons. First, many of the casualties of bombings are shootings are unarmed, and they would not have had a chance to defend themselves anyway. Additionally, the authorities – not insurgents and militia men – need to provide security for the people if a civil war is going to be prevented.

One might still argue that the Iraqi government would not comply with this request. This concern is easily resolved by committing American troops to remain in Iraq and guarantee security for the Iraqi people.

It seems that Democrats are desperately seeking ways to position themselves in a favorable light for the next presidential election. Making a new strategy for Iraq a huge priority in their program would be a wonderful opportunity for the party to stand out and do some good.

I don’t suppose that strategy would be the entire solution to the problem in Iraq. But I do think this could be the first step to turn around a seemingly hopeless situation. After all, if there are no weapons, there can be no war.

Niels Liebisch is a University alum with a degree in engineering.

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