November 17, 2006


Anatomy of a Civil War

This is a must read: a long, in-depth article by Nir Rosen on how the civil war came about in Iraq. Yes, it is a civil war already, forget the silliness about whether the country is on the brink or not. One has to wear ideological blinders not to see it for what it is. The sickening, grisly carnage, with its tortured, mutilated corpses being dumped by morning on the streets has become a morbid routine. Gunfire is everywhere. Sectarian identities, not of real importance before, have become paramount. Secular, middle-class professionals have fled abroad, barricade themselves in their homes or reluctantly pretend to be something they're not or at least didn't use to be: partisans, "true believers." Rosen surmises that Iraq as a nation state is doomed, no matter what the US does now. He thinks the Shi'ite Arabs will push the Sunni Arabs out of Baghdad altogether and attempt to do the same for Anbar province. A regional war will eventually ensue. Meanwhile, politicians and their ilk in Washington, DC keep on talking about options and plans... but even a new Democratic majority in Congress won't be able to change the facts on the ground in Iraq. I do want to believe that Rosen is wrong, too pessimistic. However, I cannot convincingly disprove his analysis. Needless to say, ancient archaeological sites, the remnants of civilizations past that are today already basically available for the taking in a free-for-all, would be decimated utterly beyond belief should the ultimate cataclysm occur. But as the 100,000s of Iraqi dead due to the War would cross into a million and more, any concern for antiquities by us conceited Westerners verily would be nothing but obscene.

• N. Rosen, "Anatomy of a Civil War. Iraq’s descent into chaos," in Boston Review, 31, 6 (November-December 2006)


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