Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Courtesy of Zen Pundit and the Small Wars Council, I was able to read the testimony and examine the presentation of the report that General Petraeus, of the Multinational Force - Iraq, gave to the Congress. The fifth slide is titled "Ethno-Sectarian" violence, and contains maps of Sunni v. Shia attacks on December 2006, February 2007, May 2007, and August 2007.
What's strange about it is that the neighborhood map does not change. The detailed color-coded representation of Baghdad, with Green for majority Shia, blue for majority Sunni, and orange for mixed appears to be the same now as it was twenty months ago.
Everywhere, of course, one reads about the etnic cleansing of Baghdad. So what gives? I'm assuming that those who prepared the slides for Petraeus used the last available census information for generating the ethnic neighborhood maps, but alternatively (and less likely, in my opinion) the discussion of ongoing ethnic cleansing could be overblown.
Finally, presuming the violence in Baghdad is leading to ethnically cleansed neighborhoods, it would be interesting to compare a real time-sequenced map of Baghdad with theoretical work on homogenization and inter-group tournaments that's now appearing in the academic literature.
Friday, September 07, 2007
Dehghanpishesh, B. & Kaplow, L. (2007). Baghdad's new owners: Shiites now dominate the once mixed capital, and there is little chance of reversing the process. Newsweek. September 10, 2007. Available online: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20546328/site/newsweek/page/0/ (from Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog).
Faluda, S. (2007). America's guardian myths. The New York Times. September 7, 2007. Available online: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/07/opinion/07faludi.html?ref=todayspaper.
Two good articles on pre-modern wars, which may be called "0GW." In the New York Times a reminder of genocide-scale violence against English settlers:
The assault on Lancaster came several months into King Philip’s War (or Metacom’s Rebellion, for those who prefer the actual name of the Wampanoag chief). That fearsome and formative confrontation between white settlers and the New England tribes remains, per capita, America’s deadliest war. In one year, one of every 10 white men of military age in Massachusetts Bay was killed, and one of every 16 in the Northeastern colonies. Two-thirds of New England towns were attacked and more than half the settlements were left in ruins. Settlers were forced to retreat nearly to the coast, and the Colonial economy was devastated.
And, in Newsweek, the violent ethnic cleansing of Baghdad:
Thousands of other Sunnis like Kamal have been cleared out of the western half of Baghdad, which they once dominated, in recent months. The surge of U.S. troops—meant in part to halt the sectarian cleansing of the Iraqi capital—has hardly stemmed the problem. The number of Iraqi civilians killed in July was slightly higher than in February, when the surge began. According to the Iraqi Red Crescent, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has more than doubled to 1.1 million since the beginning of the year, nearly 200,000 of those in Baghdad governorate alone. Rafiq Tschannen, chief of the Iraq mission for the International Organization for Migration, says that the fighting that accompanied the influx of U.S. troops actually "has increased the IDPs to some extent."
Both the Massachusettes Bay Colony of Prince William's War and the contemporary Baghdad Governorate are fake states, lines on that could only be enforced by violence. Like Massachusettes Bay before her, Baghdad has one choice if she wishes to become a real political region: become a cultural region, as well.
In colonial New England, the "trigger pullers" of the colonial militia was backed up by a restrictive but pro-market ruleset, the religious puritanism of the area's new inhabitans. In the same way, contemporary Baghdad is only born by the violence of the Shia militias: a restrictive but pro-market ruleset, probably Sharia, is needed to raise her up.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
We are four years into the Iraq War -- five years into our response to 9/11.
We cannot possibly lose. Our enemies cannot possibly win.
Baghdad, the ancient capital of the Sunni Arabs -- the old Caliphate. Remember the Empires it has resisted.
The Byzantines tried and failed to capture it. The last Byzantine Emperor fell in 1453. His conquerer, the Ottomans, fell in 1922.
The Mongols captured it, but failed to hold it. The city was Sunni Arab before the Mongols, and was Sunni Arab after them. The last Mongol Emperor fell in 1368. Their conquerers, the Ming, fell in 1644.
Osama bin Laden showed the world what the Sunni Arabs could accomplish, at the price of a few thousand American lives. He can destroy a few very nice buildings and alter the skyline of New York City. He can decrease national GDP by, say, .1% in a quarter.
George W. Bush showed the Sunni Arabs what he could accomplish, at the price of a few thousand American lives. Sunni Arab Baghdad is gone, forever. He gave it to their greatest enemies, the partisans of Ali.
The Byzantine Emperor, in all his glory, could not do that.
The Mongol Horde, in all their glory, could not do that.
But Bush did it, all while amusing himself by putting the Shia's sponsor -- Iran -- on the defensive. Bush did it while proving the Shia themselves were powerless.
Imagine if Stalin had not stopped at Prussia, but had cleared Vienna of German domination, forever.
That is the scale of Bush's work in Iraq.
The world will remember the Iraq War for a thousand years.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
"When Camels Fly," by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/20/opinion/20friedman.html, 22 February 2005.
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Tom Friedman continues to be a terrific columnist for the New York Times. From his latest:
It's good news, bad news time again for the Middle East. The good news is that what you are witnessing in the Arab world is the fall of its Berlin Wall. The old autocratic order is starting to crumble. The bad news is that unlike the Berlin Wall in central Europe, the one in the Arab world is going to fall one bloody brick at a time, and, unfortunately, Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa and the Solidarity trade union are not waiting to jump into our arms on the other side.
No one is more pleased than I am to see the demonstration of "people power" in Iraq, with millions of Iraqis defying the "you vote, you die" threat of the Baathists and jihadists. No one should take lightly the willingness of the opposition forces in Lebanon to stand up and point a finger at the Syrian regime and say "J'accuse!" for the murder of the opposition leader Rafik Hariri. No one should dismiss the Palestinian election, which featured a real choice of candidates, and a solid majority voting in favor of a decent, modernizing figure - Mahmoud Abbas. No one should ignore the willingness of some Egyptians to demand to run against President Hosni Mubarak when he seeks a fifth - unopposed - term. These are things you have not seen in the Arab world before. They are really, really unusual - like watching camels fly.
Something really is going on with the proverbial "Arab street." The automatic assumption that the "Arab street" will always rally to the local king or dictator - if that king or dictator just waves around some bogus threat or insult from "America," "Israel" or "the West" - is no longer valid. Yes, the Iraq invasion probably brought more anti-American terrorists to the surface. But it also certainly brought more pro-democracy advocates to the surface.
Call it the "Baghdad Spring."
But we have to be very sober about what is ahead. There will be no velvet revolutions in this part of the world. The walls of autocracy will not collapse with just one good push. As the head-chopping insurgents in Iraq, the suicide bombers in Saudi Arabia and the murderers of Mr. Hariri have all signaled: The old order in this part of the world will not go quietly into this good night. You put a flower in the barrel of their gun and they'll blow your hand and your head right off.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
"Hama Rules," by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/17/opinion/17friedman.html, 17 February 2005.
I am a fan of Tom Friedman. His Geo-Green strategy is right-on, and he recognizes we are currently fighting an Iraqi Civil War. His latest column on the assassination of former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafik Hariri is perfect. Excerpts below:
About two weeks ago, a friend of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri stopped by my office to update me on Lebanon and pass on a message from Mr. Hariri, whom I have known since reporting from Beirut in the late 1970's. The message was that the Lebanese opposition to the Syrian occupation was getting united - inspired both by the example of Iraq and by the growing excesses of the Syrian occupation. Mr. Hariri, his friend said, was planning to use the coming Lebanese parliamentary elections, and a hoped-for victory by the opposition front, to send a real message to the Syrians: It's time for you to go.
There is no excuse anymore for Syria's occupation of Lebanon, other than naked imperialism and a desire to siphon off Lebanese resources. If the U.S. government and media really care about democracy in the Arab world, Mr. Hariri's envoy said, then the U.S. has to get behind those trying to rescue the oldest real Arab democracy, Lebanon, from the Syrian grip.
When Syria's Baath regime feels its back up against the wall, it always resorts to "Hama Rules." Hama Rules is a term I coined after the Syrian Army leveled - and I mean leveled - a portion of its own city, Hama, to put down a rebellion by Sunni Muslim fundamentalists there in 1982. Some 10,000 to 20,000 Syrians were buried in the ruble. Monday's murder of Mr. Hariri, a self-made billionaire who devoted his money and energy to rebuilding Lebanon after its civil war, had all the hallmarks of Hama Rules - beginning with 650 pounds of dynamite to incinerate an armor-plated motorcade.
Message from the Syrian regime to Washington, Paris and Lebanon's opposition: "You want to play here, you'd better be ready to play by Hama Rules - and Hama Rules are no rules at all. You want to squeeze us with Iraq on one side and the Lebanese opposition on the other, you'd better be able to put more than U.N. resolutions on the table. You'd better be ready to go all the way - because we will. But you Americans are exhausted by Iraq, and you Lebanese don't have the guts to stand up to us, and you French make a mean croissant but you've got no Hama Rules in your arsenal. So remember, we blow up prime ministers here. We shoot journalists. We fire on the Red Cross. We leveled one of our own cities. You want to play by Hama Rules, let's see what you've got. Otherwise, hasta la vista, baby."
What else can the Lebanese do? They must unite all their communities and hit the Syrian regime with "Baghdad Rules," which were demonstrated 10 days ago by the Iraqi people. Baghdad Rules are when an Arab public does something totally unprecedented: it takes to the streets, despite the threat of violence from jihadists and Baathists, and expresses its democratic will.
Nothing drives a dictatorship like Syria's more crazy than civil disobedience and truth-telling: when people stop being intimidated, stand up for their own freedom and go on strike against their occupiers. The Lebanese can't play by Hama Rules and must stop playing by the old Lebanese Rules. They must start playing by Baghdad Rules.
Read the whole thing.