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October 27, 2006



Naturally, if you airbrush the US out of the civil war, then you have an artificial construct where rules such as federalism and the US presence are god-given prior assumptions, and Shiites and Sunni then fight over them, and the question would then be: "How long will they fight" (the Fearon problem).

However since the Iraqis also have the gift of language, you could listen to them and try to understand their point (what percentage of them Professor Fearon could tell us) that the principal common aim is to dislodge the party that initiated this civil war and that fomented its many manifestations. In that case the question would be "how long will the Americans fight us" (the Iraqi problem)? A different question entirely.

People can differ about which is the more pressing question. But I think we can all agree that if you want to blow smoke in peoples faces, there is no better way than to eliminate Iraqis from the discussion and invoke statistical science instead.


Dear AA,

I do miss a discussion of the situation where a country, in this case Iraq, would break up. Contrary to ex-Yugoslavia, in Iraq the representatives of the old order, the old central(ized) state are the weakest group now. If southern Iraq goes the way of Iraqi Kurdistan (de jure autonomy as a federal region or regions, de facto independence, physical quasi-sealing off from the rest of the country), I don't think that there is much that anyone can do about it.

There might even be a partition of Baghdad, an ethno-religious de-mixing of whole regions (as opposed to "just" neighborhood, as now), etc.pp.

In the end, one of the main obstacles to a cessation of the violence (apart from the foreign occupation, as Badger rightly pointed out) is the emphasis on Iraq having to keep its borders as established in 1920. Interestingly, the people who scream the loudest about "imperialist intervention etc." are the very same who are most reluctant to change the imperialist borders.

De facto ... Iraq might already not exist anymore.




"Ethno-religious de-mixing"? Why the euphemisms, Badger? You're talking about ethnic cleansing and/or genocide. Say it out loud.


Oops, sorry Badger, that was MSK I was abusing.


Dear "SR",

I am not talking about ethnic cleansing and/or genocide. I am talking about Iraq currently going down the same path as Lebanon did during its civil war, where previously mixed areas/neighborhoods became ethno-religiously homogenous. There were instances where that occured through force and massacres (like the wiping-out of the Karantina refugee camp in Beirut). If that is ethnic cleansing, then maybe so, but it certainly wasn't genocide and neither is there on in Iraq right now.

Personally, I am very cautious with using words like "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide". Overuse of those terms and applying them to any & every conflict cheapens the crimes that actually WERE/ARE ethnic cleansings and genocides.

Also, "ethnic cleansing" is usually used in the sense that it's done actively, by a group against another. There are instances where this is happening in Iraq, so far on the neighborhood scale.

So, I'm saying it out loud: There is ethnic cleansing in Iraq going on.

Now that we've covered that, how about you actually engage the issue of the post?



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