Clearing the Fog
in the
War of Words


  logomachy--1. A dispute about words. 2. A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.
logomachon--1. One who argues about words. 2. A word warrior.



Bad news from Iraq

Steven Vincent at In the Red Zone continues to offer new and fresh insights on developments in Iraq. Recent posts have discussed some unsettling indications that interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s campaign strategy may be to form a Shia-Sunni alliance aiming to bring back a “Saddam lite” authoritarian regime. Part of the motivation is to make Iraq strong enough to resist Iranian moves after the US pulls back.

Allawi states his case here.

Yesterday’s post contains a report from Khalid, a formerly very upbeat Iraqi journalist, who has now left the country because of the predominance of gangsters allied with political factions (or vice versa). Last Spring Khalid and some other journalists told Vincent about the gangsters and graft operating “under the passive noses of the British”. Now, Khalid writes,
Basra looks like a town in the American West, where gangsters and killers become the only authority and anyone who tries to discover their crimes will be shut-down and presented as a criminal and an outlaw!
It is like this: the gangsters control the government and steal money through many different ways, but most particularly through fictitious contracts. Their militias wear the uniform of the Iraqi National Guard. They are loyal only to their party chieftains.
Private militias are an almost inevitable development, but they are not permanent. They can be superseded, suppressed, or co-opted. In South Vietnam, some units of the irregular troops (CIDG) run by the US Special Forces were effectively units of FULRO, the montagnard resistance organization. As CIDGs' capabilities developed and their areas of operation were stabilized, the Green Berets withdrew and the CIDG camps were converted to regular army units. In another case, the private armies of the warlords in Afghanistan are being absorbed into the national army.

What the situation is Basra does show is that regular army forces are not trained to deal with lawbreaking and gangsterism, any more than cops are trained to use tactical air support. Law enforcement by line troops pretty much begins and ends with martial law.

Gangsterism will persist until civil society has developed further. The rooting out of gangster rule and corruption requires strong action by higher levels of government, just as the U.S. Constitution makes the Federal government responsible for ensuring that each state has a republican form of government. This is a police responsibility, but coalition forces must be available to provide muscle for crushing or forcing the disbanding of gangster militias.



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