Charles Krauthammer discusses amnesty in Iraq:
Our objective in any war is not revenge but success. Confederate soldiers who swore allegiance to the U.S. were pardoned after the Civil War, even those who had killed Union soldiers. We gave amnesty to legions of Japanese and Germans who'd killed thousands of Americans in World War II.
And those amnesties were granted after total victory. In conflicts in which there is no unconditional surrender -- civil strife that ends far more ambiguously as in El Salvador and Chile, for example -- amnesty and reconciliation are the essential elements for the establishment of a stable democratic peace.
In Iraq, amnesty will necessarily be part of any co-optation strategy in which insurgents lay down their arms. And it would not apply to the foreign jihadists, who, unlike the Sunni insurgents who would join the new Iraq, dream of an Islamic state built on the ruins of the current order. There is nothing to discuss with such people. The only way defeat them is to kill them, as we did Zarqawi.
But killing them requires depriving them of their sanctuary. Reconciliation-cum-amnesty gets disaffected Iraqi Sunni tribes to come over to the government's side, drying up the sea in which the jihadists swim. After all, we found Zarqawi in heavily Sunni territory by means of intelligence given to us by local Iraqis.