Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Baghdad Vigilantes and the Dark Side of Civil Society Baghdad Vigilantes and the Dark Side of Civil Society

Frederick Turner at TCS Daily in an article titled: Baghdad Vigilantes and the Dark Side of Civil Society that suggests that the MSM is missing what is going on right now in Iraq, and both the Administration and the Iraqis are trying to ignore it. Turner suggests that the killings by the Sunni Arabs are little different than those practiced by them since our invastion - indiscirminate killing of mostly innocents for its in terrorem effect. But that contrasts sharply with many of the killings of the Sunni Arabs is the just opposite, highly targetted and done primarily for revenge. Most of those being killed are either Saddam henchmen, connected somehow to terror bombings, or are a family member of one of those groups.

Turner suggests that this dynamic played out over the last couple of decades in Latin America, and in earlier times in England, France, and the U.S. When civil society is attempting to organize itself along quasi-democratic lines and to provide law and order, sometimes there are those who refuse to join, and, rather, attempt through violence to disrupt it. And that is when the author suggests that men leave their families, take up their guns, join a vigilante group, and go off into the night to do what the state should do, but can't for moral reasons. And, when they are done, and the terrorists have fled or died, it is over.

There is a lot of evidence that this is happening. The killing of the Arab Sunnis does seem to be far, far, more targetted than the killing that they are doing, which seems very indiscriminate. And, so far, about 1/4 of that community has fled the country, and another 1/12 has moved into safer neighborhoods.

The inclusion of the families in the hit lists is probably more a result of the Arab/Moslem culture than anything else. Someone is probably going to think a couple times before going out and killing a bunch of innocent women and children through as a suicide bomber, if he has reason to believe that the vigilantes will retaliate by taking his family out and kill them execution style. He now doesn't have a clear shot at Paradise, but rather has the guilt of their deaths on his hands too. It is brutal, but effective:
In a sense, the great new weapon, the suicide bomber—which had seemed to all the world to be irresistible—has, like all weapons, shown its fatal flaw. That flaw was first revealed in the Jordan bombing of the hotel wedding party, which radicalized Jordanians against al Qaeda. Now it has turned to bite the radicals in Baghdad. If civil society finds itself threatened by utter chaos, it may resort to free-enterprise war against its enemy. By definition what it does then cannot be law-abiding or approved by its own government; it is in Hobbes' state of nature; but it can be a kind of savage rationality that might precede law.

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