February 28, 2006
— Ace Not sure I want to see this happen, but there is a case to be made, as this writer quotes, that:
"although war is a great evil, it does have a great virtue: it can resolve political conflicts and lead to peace. This can happen when all belligerents become exhausted or when one wins decisively. Either way the key is that the fighting must continue until a resolution is reached."
The only reason terrorism continues to be effective (to the extent it is) is that the societies which tolerate it/promote it are insulated from the natural consequences of their actions -- to wit, a full, vicious war against them. Terrorism exists because those who are slaughtered do not slaughter in response.
A civil war in Iraq would undoubtedly be a major problem in the short term. We would have no good response to it militarily-- we could either withdraw, allowing the sects to viciously slaughter each other while we stand by, or we can insert our troops into the mayhem, earning enemies on all sides and seeing our casualties skyrocket.
In the long term, perhaps, it is the only remaining true solution. The Sunnis will not accept they do not control Iraq anymore. Violence and death are horrible, but sometimes it is the only way to convince someone to abandon the path of violence and death themselves. And until the Sunnis get the full measure of violent justice, they will continue believing their path to power runs through bombed-out police stations and schoolhouses.
Posted by: PBJTime at February 28, 2006 10:49 AM (ieK47)
But the thing is...we were a nation before the Civil War. Just not a very cohesive one. We inherited a strong civil society from our English parents, with strong institutions of law and government. We also had founders who were geniuses in their own right, and could state the founding principles quite clearly. America was founded as an idea, not a place for a certain ethnicity or creed.
Iraq never was a nation except on paper -- it was an invention of English bureaucrats after World War I to weld together three of the old Ottoman Empire provinces (Mosul, Baghdad, Basra). Mesopotamia has never, in all its long history, had a tradition of strong central government -- nor had it any real national character. It should not shock us if it fragments again -- in fact, I view this as perhaps an inevitable outcome, for all the bloodshed and pain it will cause short-term.
First, Kurdistan. The Kurds have formed a de facto state of their own, and will not give it up. This is why they insisted on strong federalist language in the Iraqi constitution. If the Kurds see the situation deteriorate much more, I think they will simply withdraw. Turkey will scream, of course, but the Kurds have longed for a state of their own for centuries. They will not lose this opportunity. Kurdistan is a fact on the ground, even if the maps don't show it. But they want Kirkuk, and getting it will be a very bloody business.
Second, Basra and southern Iraq. The people there are Arab Shi'ites. There is vast oil wealth there, and if they break away there is fear they would become a satellite of Iran. I'm not sure how likely this is -- there is no love lost between the Persian Shi'a of Iran and the Arab Shi'a of Iraq. Many hard memories of the Iran-Iraq war linger.
Third, the "Sunni Triangle". No oil wealth, no mineral wealth, no industry. If Iraq breaks up, the Sunnis will inherit the armpit of the Middle East. The place will devolve into a hellhole that breeds Islamic radicalism like a disease. Think of Fallujah, only a thousand times bigger.
And then there's Turkey, Iran, and Syria. They all have Kurdish populations they want to keep under control. They all have an interest in making sure that Iraq doesn't become too powerful. Civil war would suit them just fine, as long as Kurdistan doesn't break away.
Posted by: Monty at February 28, 2006 10:54 AM (/V4PN)
a) Al Queda
b) the Democratic Party
c) the AP, Reuters, and other MSM
I didn't say it would be easy.
Posted by: OCBill at February 28, 2006 11:20 AM (EOn/f)
The Persian empire? The Babylonian empire? Just thinking aloud.
Posted by: Andrew at February 28, 2006 11:29 AM (GnZn+)
The Persian empire never really included Mesopotamia (although it did extend into Anatolia at one point under Darius the Great). The Babylonian "empire" was basically a single city-state that extended military tendrils thoughout the Middle East, but never gained anything like hegemony. The Assyrians likewise.
I guess the Ottoman Empire was as close as Mesopotamia ever got to a strong central government, but "strong" is relative. It was alway a millstone for the Ottomans, and was considered a backwater.
Posted by: Monty at February 28, 2006 11:34 AM (/V4PN)
Seriously. If these terrorists think they are so tough, they should try bombing someone like Stalin's Soviet Union, or Hitler's Germany.
They sure are lucky they've got such pansies as opponents.
Posted by: Rip at February 28, 2006 11:36 AM (q2HEf)
a) Al Queda
b) the Democratic Party
c) the AP, Reuters, and other MSM
Damn, this really sucks. I never thought of it this way, but it's 100% true. What would happen if civil war erupts while a Democrat controls the White House? Could we spin it to be their fault? Because it is, and would be.
Posted by: Rip at February 28, 2006 11:44 AM (q2HEf)
I guess maybe the word "strong" is what I'm getting hung up on, like you said. I say that because Middle Eastern history seems to me to be a series of these empires--some larger and more powerful than others--gathering together disparate areas under their control. Persians, Greeks, Ottomans, Europeans--these guys only got regional independence in this century. So they haven't had centralized government in the sense that Americans today understand it, perhaps, but something not entirely dissimilar.
Also, my timeline of the Persian empire may be a bit fuzzy, but Mesopotamia was absolutely part of it when Alexander invaded; Gaugamela was fought in northern Iraq. The empire at that point stretched, as you said, from Anatolia to Afghanistan (Bactrian cavalry, as even Alexander admitted, were the SHIZNIT).
Posted by: Andrew at February 28, 2006 11:51 AM (GnZn+)
Uh, so like when Iran went through a debilitating eight year war with Iraq and lost hundreds of thousands of people, all the while exporting terrorism all over the world, creating Hezbollah in Lebanon and jihadists in Afghanistan, and then even after that war continuing those very same policies?
Posted by: Dave in DC at February 28, 2006 12:04 PM (bNVfT)
Only in the loosest sense. Even Darius rarely bothered to send in tax collectors or muster infantry from the population. Baghdad itself held some cultural relevance, having been the seat of the Caliphate at one time; but the rest of the Tigris/Euphrates valley (Mesopotamia, in other words) was a big fat lot of nothing as far as most of the regional overlords were concerned. Most of the overlords didn't "govern" the area much at all, and just let the tribes and Bedouins go their own way.
This is one reason why the southern half of Iraq retained a distinctly Arab character in spite of being Shi'ite. They never culturally mixed with Persians, who to this day generally treat Arabs as an inferior race.
That's the problem. Mesopotamia has been "part" of lots of empires. It's just never been governed by any of them. Sometimes I think they'd have done better if Rome had pushed back the Persian empire and taken over there as well. They'd have been better off in the long run.
Posted by: Monty at February 28, 2006 12:09 PM (UdJCa)
Posted by: Andrew at February 28, 2006 12:24 PM (GnZn+)
Booo-yah! Adulation from a stranger! My pathetic, attention-seeking id craves such things. It makes all those lonely hours spend reading in library carrels seem...well, still demented and sad, but more worthwhile.
("Hey, Monty, come to the frat-house for a party!" "I can't, I have to study!" "What for?" "So I can impress total strangers on the Intarweb two decades from now! It's important!" God. Kill me now.)
Posted by: Monty at February 28, 2006 12:28 PM (UdJCa)
Posted by: Tony at February 28, 2006 12:29 PM (Lpswv)
I'm somewhat confused by your juxtaposition of Darius and the Baghdad Caliphate.
Posted by: Captain Ned at February 28, 2006 02:11 PM (osioG)
Not a juxtaposition, really. Just pointing out that the Caliphate was really the only time in Baghdad's history where it was really the "center" of anything, and it was a pretty brief time in absolute terms.
I do understand that Darius ruled Persia well before the advent of Islam, never fear. I didn't mean to conflate the two.
Posted by: Monty at February 28, 2006 02:33 PM (djE5R)
Posted by: Dave in Texas at February 28, 2006 02:36 PM (9j0MA)
Posted by: geoff at February 28, 2006 02:47 PM (vpYuK)
Ever meet a war you did not like?
I guess we have reached doublespeak at last.
It is oh so liberal to fancy the result when your own water is not at risk.
Posted by: Dale at February 28, 2006 05:12 PM (/Xqsp)
Posted by: OCBill at February 28, 2006 07:46 PM (LxU8h)
Our other option is this: we smash the Sunnis ourselves, in a Sherman style scorched earth campaign. We kill, burn, destroy any and all villages and tribes that support terrorism. We destroy crops and fill in wells. We level mosques used as firing platforms or as arms warehouses. We execute Imans who preach terror. We execute Sheiks who support terror. We kill human shields whenever we need to. We execute the families of terrorists. We torture terrorists as much as we need to, not only for information but to force them to renounce their religion and therefore forfeit those 72 virgins they lust for. We crucify 100 terrorists for every hostage they take. And so on. We teach the Sunnis once and for all that terrorism does not pay, by taking the battle to the people who support it by word and deed. Terrorists need safehouses, mosques to preach in, madrassas to recruit from, people to give them money, arms, food, etc. Destroy those, show the people who support terror that they pay the price, and Terror will stop. Terrorism, in plain English, is a form of peoples war. The solution is to wage war against the people, until they are defeated and more importantly, convinced in their own minds they are defeated.
Of course, Muslims around the world will hate us. So what? What will they do, fly airplanes into skyscrapers? As kaffirs, we cannot win hearts and minds and its time to stop trying. We don't need to be loved, only feared.
Posted by: BattleofthePyramids at March 01, 2006 07:23 AM (0/RqM)
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