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Civil War?
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, October 04, 2006

And not in the place most expect it:
Tensions between supporters of the nationalist Palestinian Fatah and the Islamic Hamas erupted into bloody clashes in which 12 people were killed and as many as 150 were wounded in the past three days.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas tried to calm the situation and hostilities seem to have ebbed, but it is not clear for how long.

"It is a civil war," said former Fatah minister Kadurah Fares.
Not a particularly big surprise. Because, you see, voting doesn't automatically mean a country is a democracy:
The struggle is a result of the fact that the Palestinians do not have a democratic tradition and their system is a hotbed for friction. Their president, of Fatah, was elected in January 2004 and is more than a figurehead. The government is dominated by Hamas following its decisive victory in the January 2005 parliamentary elections.
Multiple peaceful transitions of power are a better indicator and, as we see, that's not happening within the Palestinian community.

There are other countries who, while claiming to be democracies, really aren't. Venezuela, for instance. Iran. Iraq when Saddam was in charge. Zimbabwe.

They may all have elections, but the outcome is preordained. They aren't democracies. They're totalitarian regimes which validate their power with show votes. There's no transition of power. There's simply a consolidation of power.

I will consider the new Iraq to be a democratic nation when I've seen power peacefully transfered among its competing factions numerous times based on votes taken.

Palestinians at least tried to transition the power, but without established democratic institutions to enable that transition, well, you see the result. While democracy is a wonderful thing, it must be developed, not imposed. And developing those institutions take time. We'll see if the Palestinians can figure that out. We'll also see whether the Iraqis can as well. But until then, neither can really be considered a 'democracy' per se, can they?
 
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Palestinians at least tried to transition the power, but without established democratic institutions to enable that transition, well, you see the result. While democracy is a wonderful thing, it must be developed, not imposed.
It should also be based on self-interest and not Judenhass. But, democracy also includes the ability to do idiotic things by the will of the majority. Thus, a Hamas government.
We’ll see if the Palestinians can figure that out. We’ll also see whether the Iraqis can as well. But until then, neither can really be considered a ’democracy’ per se, can they?
The Iraqis seem to be making a great effort. Political parties aren’t debating by firefight, which is the Palestinian norm. Palestine has been in civil war since Arafat died, as no government has managed to centralize authority, or to govern. Lebanon has the same problem, though the Christian/anti-Islamist factions don’t seem to have much influence/firepower
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
If the Palestinan government had a plan besides "kill joooooooooos!" it might help. But then, that’s the be-all, end-all of their ambitions as a nation
at moment isn’t it?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Democracy is really just a proxy for violence. Until violence is considered to be an inefficient means of achieving mutual goals, democracy cannot take root. Or worse, if there are no mutual goals democracy is useless.

IMHO, Iraq is mostly in the former phase: there are mutual goals, but violence is still considered by some to be an efficient and legitmate means of driving domestic policy.

The Palestinians, OTOH, are firmly in the latter phase: one group has no other aim than to engage in permanent war against Israel until they are driven into the sea, and the other simply wants to establish an actual nation and get on with their lives. There is not much chance of mutual goals emerging here.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
IMHO, Iraq is mostly in the former phase: there are mutual goals, but violence is still considered by some to be an efficient and legitmate means of driving domestic policy.
OTOH, for the most part (realizing that there are exceptions) the Iraqi violence isn’t directed against the government or controlled by it. Vast majorities of all ethinic groups support the central government and deplore the violence, much of which is funded and instigated by foreign entities. The rest seems to be a product of oh so many years of hating each other. The hotheads need to get their ya ya’s out, and finish killing each other until there aren’t enough of them left to keep much of a fight going. Can common sense and basic decency outlast them?
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
OTOH, for the most part (realizing that there are exceptions) the Iraqi violence isn’t directed against the government or controlled by it. Vast majorities of all ethinic groups support the central government and deplore the violence, much of which is funded and instigated by foreign entities. The rest seems to be a product of oh so many years of hating each other.
For the most part, the Iraqi violence isn’t directed against or controlled by the government? Are you nuts? It’s almost entirely directed against the government or controlled by it.

Vast majorities of all ethinic groups support the central government and deplore the violence,
You don’t like the real world, so you’re making things up, huh?
The rest seems to be a product of oh so many years of hating each other.
If you read instead of making sh*t up, you’d have read that Sunnis and Shiites got along fine on the communal level in Iraq for decades before now. Now they don’t. Once upon a time, Pablo, I thought you were realistic.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
If you read instead of making sh*t up, you’d have read that Sunnis and Shiites got along fine on the communal level in Iraq for decades before now. Now they don’t. Once upon a time, Pablo, I thought you were realistic.

You sad human being... they got along fine, if by that yuo mean that the Sunni’s DOMINATED the Shi’i for centuries, just as Whites and Blacks got along FINE in the South, even if one group was the chattel property of another. As long as each group stayed in its place there was no problem!

Did you NOT see or hear of the repression of the Shi’i after the 1991 Gulf War, or do you consider the use of tanks, helicopter, and poison gas, just good clean fun?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
For the most part, the Iraqi violence isn’t directed against or controlled by the government?
Right. This is why the majority of the deaths are civilians. They’re mostly bombing markets, mosques and other crowded areas in which the target ethnicity gathers. It is sectarian violence, not insurgency that is most of the current problem.
You don’t like the real world, so you’re making things up, huh?
Not at all, and I’ve posted this here before. Thanks for ignoring/missing it, and for making things up yourself.
Reports of conflict in Iraq may give the impression that the central government is so weak and unpopular that Iraq is on the verge of fragmenting into a loose confederation, and that major sectors of the population are aligning themselves with militias. However, the findings of a new WPO poll of Iraqis suggest a different picture.

Iraqis appear to agree on having a strong central government, and large majorities among all ethnic groups (Shias, Arab Sunnis, and Kurds) want the government to get rid of the militias. Majorities of all groups do not favor a movement toward a looser confederation and believe that five years from now Iraq will still be a single state. Six in ten approve of the job the Maliki government is doing in facing Iraq’s problems—though currently, a slight majority does not think Iraq is going in the right direction.
Will glasnost concede a point that troubles him? Inquiring minds want to know...
If you read instead of making sh*t up, you’d have read that Sunnis and Shiites got along fine on the communal level in Iraq for decades before now.
Yeah like POW’s and their guards get along fine. You spend 35 years with a jackboot on your head, I can see where you’d have a bit of an attitude when you finally get freed from it. But you’re trying to argue that peace through brutal oppression is preferable to liberty, aren’t you? The vast majority of Iraqis disagrees with you about that too.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
There is a proposal afoot at one UN agency, that given the chaotic situation of Palestinian politics, the question of who is in charge should be deferred for the moment.

The idea is to put the notion of negotiating for peace on a direct referendum to both Isralis and Palestinians. There would be no ’final outcome’ proposals in the referendum, but it would mandate proceding directly to negotiations.

The risk is getting a ’no’ result. The hope is that it would break the multiple stalemates.

Elections would follow, but if the referendum had passed, both governments would be under pressure to move in a more pragmatic direction.
 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
You sad human being...
He’just upset that Hamas is going so poorly . . .

Crushed expectations and all.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
If democracy is a process of building a stable political culture, don’t write off Iran. America’s democracy had slavery for 80 years, women couldn’t vote for 140...the things we think democracy must have were virtually non-existent for much of our past. While the Guardian Council controls candidates, moderates won every election before the last Majles and Presidential elections. Moreover, Iranian life eased up in terms of religious restrictions, and as late as 2001 the US was considering an alliance with Iran against the Taliban. The victory by the hardliners is, I suspect, less a long term trend than an anomaly, driven by anger about the US war in Iraq and the rhetorical blasts at Iran which lead to a nationalist reaction amongst especially Iranian youth.

Like with our democracy, their Islamic form of democracy will take decades of slow change (and some backsliding like recently). If we try to pressure it, it could collapse, but likely not replaced with anything better. Democracies are strongest which develop gradually, following internal cultural change and not external demands. As for the Palestinian violence, it’s more of an example of how the violence in the Mideast is NOT the West vs. Islam, but far more one group of Muslims vs. another.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~blog.htm
The Iraqis seem to be making a great effort. Political parties aren’t debating by firefight, which is the Palestinian norm. Palestine has been in civil war since Arafat died, as no government has managed to centralize authority, or to govern. Lebanon has the same problem, though the Christian/anti-Islamist factions don’t seem to have much influence/firepower
Political parties have militias and are engaged in violence in Iraq, and corruption is so intense that the government really isn’t very effective. Moreover, the violence in Iraq — the civil war — has eroded support for the government (which is a coalition patch work). Iranian democracy is farther along than Iraqi democracy at this point. Democracy can work in Iraq, but it’ll take a long time, and probably can only start moving forward after the US leaves. It also could entail a partition. Currently our presence creates a convenient scapegoat as well as a force to rally extremists. Different ethnic groups simply try to use us to support their claims and positions. They will only be able to and forced to reach true long term compromises once the foreign force is removed — that needs to be done orderly and in a manner negotiated, preferably with involvement from other regional actors — but this isn’t something that can be fixed with military force.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~blog.htm
Middle East Operations:
case A) US goes into Iraq, 3 years later a (near) civil war
case B) US stops funding to PA, about a year later a civil war

I don’t see the causal relationship.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Scott Erb,

I’ll believe the Iranian democracy when I see it.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Let’s wish both Hamas and Fatah the very best of luck.
 
Written By: chsw10605
URL: http://
So
Right. This is why the majority of the deaths are civilians. They’re mostly bombing markets, mosques and other crowded areas in which the target ethnicity gathers. It is sectarian violence, not insurgency that is most of the current problem.
The majority of deaths are civilians, because attacks against civilians are more deadly. This . seems to paint a very detailed and very different picture about the distrbution of attacks. See page 27. Attacks on the coalition and on Iraqi security forces represent 400% of attacks on civilians over last month and last year.

So, will you retract your supposition in the face of very detailed evidence to the contrary?>


Now, onto Iraqi’s views on the government - here’s what you said:

Vast majorities of all ethinic groups support the central government and deplore the violence, much of which is funded and instigated by foreign entities.

Your very own link flatly contradicts your own statement - I’m quoting it:
On the other hand, Sunnis express low confidence in the Iraqi government and its security institutions. Eighty-two percent say that the Maliki government is doing a bad job. Seventy-six percent say that they have no confidence at all in the Iraqi Interior Ministry forces (often reputed to be a Shia stronghold) and 77 percent express little or no confidence that the police protect their security. The only institution that that engenders a bit of confidence is the army (perhaps because it is under a Sunni defense minister). Forty-six percent of Sunnis say they have at least some confidence in the army, though 54 percent say they have little or no confidence.
So much for "vast majorities of *all* ethnic groups.

And as for "deplore the violence" - is that vast majority the same vast majoirty that supports attacks on US forces? When those two items are presented in tandem, does it carry the same ring? Iraqis would love to stop getting killed. So would Palestinians. Whether or not they would support the policies that we think would stop them getting killed is a completely different question, as you yourself were referencing in your first comment here.

If popular opinion was as united and Kumbayah as you were slating it as, there would *be* no insurgency.
Yeah like POW’s and their guards get along fine. You spend 35 years with a jackboot on your head, I can see where you’d have a bit of an attitude when you finally get freed from it. But you’re trying to argue that peace through brutal oppression is preferable to liberty, aren’t you?
Read me carefully. Sure, the communal violence is a predictable reaction to the ethnic apartheid of the Hussein *government*. As for peace through brutal oppression being preferable to liberty, it’s too open-ended a question to answer. What kind of oppression, what kind of peace, and what kind of liberty? If you’re asking me there are no autocracies in while daily life is better than that of daily life in Iraq right now? The hundreds of thousands of Iraqis fleeing to Jordan suggests that they prefer that autocracy to the current situation.

Iraq was not Jordan. I wasn’t making that larger judgement at all. What I was saying was: Whatever the Hussein *government* did, and did more to Shiites than it did to Sunnis, communal violence on this scale was not inevitable. A serious possibility. Maybe even a likelihood. But not inevitable. Ordinary Shiites and ordinary Sunnis did get along in Saddamn’s Iraq - read George Packer’s Assassins Gate. I’d say that US withdrawal combined with a deal-brokerage between Iran and the Gulf States might have reduced it by multiples of ten.




 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
McQ -
We’ll also see whether the Iraqis can as well. But until then, neither can really be considered a ’democracy’ per se, can they?
Nope, not exactly. But not dictatorships either. And that’s the best thing we’ve done in Iraq. That doesn’t discuss whether it was worth it, or even a net moral act, but it is a positive outcome.

On the other hand, although I am often tempted to think this way myself, and there are worse estimates, transitions themselves aren’t a be-all and end-all, either. Japan has yet to have one since independence despite many fair elections.

On another note, the Palestinian situation can’t be understood without - and these are just facts, not an anti-western screed - the western economic embargo on Hamas-ruled Gaza and the almost continuous Israeli military pressure, which has killed 200+ Palestinians since the withdrawal. I’m not making a comprehensive case against them, but to say that tense and unpleasant conditions exist in Gaza right now is to massively understate.

Beyond that, although George Bush is to be half-admired for not supporting a Fatah-led coup outright, various Westerners have been whispering it to people like Mohammed Dahlan since the day Hamas took power. In my relatively detailed assessement, Fatah shows more authoritarian tendencies against its own general population than Hamas. When you’re trying to reach an unpopular peace agreement, authoritarianism is a common response. Abbas, in my opinion, is a hero for resisting tremendous pressure from everyone to lead a civil war which a lot of people - jihadists and western powers alike - want to see happen.

He’s also a hero for bringing Hamas away from jihad and towards the negotiating table. The failure of the West to seize this initative in the past month threatens, I think, not only humanitarian disaster, but the collapse of Palestinian democracy, followed (possibly) by the assumption of another "friendly" local, secular Palestinian dictator, ruling over a public that hates his guts.

Wonderful.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I still believe that having Hamas come to power is the best thing that could happen for the Palestinians.

Having Israel or the US to negociate with Fatah was useless.

Arafat knew the moment he declared the struggle with Israel over, he became the third leg, the extra cog, Japanese window dweller. So he never accepted a "final" solution or anything near it.

It will take an agreement with Hamas, radical Hamas, to end the hostilities.

In the mean while, it’s all deadly theater.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
The majority of deaths are civilians, because attacks against civilians are more deadly.
Right. Every potshot at one of our guys, and every IED is an attack on us. But they’re slaughtering civilians. That’s where all the blood is. Large scale attacks on us and attacks on the Iraqi security forces don’t work terribly well, they don’t instill terror. They don’t get front pages, and they don’t threaten to collapse either us or the Iraqi government. There’s no payoff to them, so they don’t spend a lot of resources on them. You can’t take the raw number of attacks and draw inferences from it alone. You have to consider both the scale of the attacks and the likely/actual result. They have and so they’re focusing their major efforts on killing civilians.
Your very own link flatly contradicts your own statement - I’m quoting it:
Of course, that’s Sunnis who are going to be the fly in the ointment. Duh. But those answers do not contradict what I said, which was that the majorities of all groups support the government and deplore the violence. Statements on low Sunni confidence in the security forces do not contradict that. That was a pretty ugly swing. And you read this right?
Confidence in Government and Security Forces

Despite Iraq’s troubles, a large majority expresses confidence in the government led by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. Sixty-three percent say that “in its effort to deal with Iraq’s problems,” the government is doing a very good job (17%) or a somewhat good job (46%).

Large majorities also express confidence in the Iraqi government forces’ ability to protect their security. As mentioned above, 64 percent say they have some (40%) or a lot (24%) of confidence in the Iraqi army. Though controversy has swirled around Interior Ministry forces, they fare only a little less well, with 62 percent expressing some (34%) or a lot (28%) of confidence. For the police, 71 percent express some (34%) or a lot (37%) of confidence.

Perhaps most significantly, when asked, “Do you feel that if all militias were to disarm now, that you could or could not rely on the government alone to ensure security in your area?” a large 68 percent say they feel they could.
And as for "deplore the violence" - is that vast majority the same vast majoirty that supports attacks on US forces?
Yes. they really don’t like their women and children being slaughtered. Us, they don’t mind so much. Of course, they’re not infidels. Is this the part where I whip out the Kurd only answers and contradict you? At least my response would address the question.

 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
While democracy is a wonderful thing, it must be developed, not imposed.
Democracy is not a "wonderful thing", it’s just better than the "divine right" of blood or mobocracy. It’s fine to elect representatives, only if their legal powers are limited to protecting individual rights. Otherwise, it’s two wolves and a lamb voting on lunch.
Notice that "making the world safe for democracy" disappeared from the political lexicon after the election of Hamas. When the Iraqis vote in a majority Shiite government with a constitutional mandate to enforce Sharia law and disburse oil revenue, we’ll be seeing "democracy in action": putting Iraq further back into the stone age than all the "Shock and Awe".
 
Written By: Bill Westmiller
URL: http://www.rlc.org
They have and so they’re focusing their major efforts on killing civilians.

I’m sorry. I don’t see how you can say that the major efforts are on killing civilians when there are four times as many attacks against non-civilians as civilians. It seems to me like saying black is white. At minimum, if you were attempting to demonstrate that the attacks on coalition forces involved less time, resources, planning, and organizational attention, you’d need a lot more data before that case is anything but speculative. In the meantime, the cigar is the cigar. It’s certainly nothing like an airtight case.

But those answers do not contradict what I said, which was that the majorities of all groups support the government and deplore the violence

If you’d just said "deplore the violence", I would have not said you were wrong. I would have maybe said something to the effect of "great. and.. this means what?". But you had "support" the government in there, and while a majority of the total population of Iraq may support the goverment, a majority of all groups do not. A majority of two of the groups do. Not the third.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I’m sorry. I don’t see how you can say that the major efforts are on killing civilians when there are four times as many attacks against non-civilians as civilians.
Snipers fire to no effect on a military convoys 5 times. One car bomb is detonated on a busy urban street and kills 30.

Do the 5 sniper attacks equal the one bombing in any way, shape or form? No. Not in effect, nor in resources expended.
At minimum, if you were attempting to demonstrate that the attacks on coalition forces involved less time, resources, planning, and organizational attention, you’d need a lot more data before that case is anything but speculative.
The proof is in the morgue, and it says that civilians are taking the brunt of the violence.
But you had "support" the government in there, and while a majority of the total population of Iraq may support the goverment, a majority of all groups do not. A majority of two of the groups do. Not the third.
Wrong. Read it again.
While Shias and Kurds are similar in their confidence in Iraqi security forces and approval of the performance of the Maliki government, Sunnis express more complex attitudes. On one hand, a large 93 percent say that if all the militias were to disarm, they could rely on the government to ensure their security, and a striking 100 percent would “prefer to have a strong government that would get rid of all militias.

...

It appears that Sunnis support a strong central government in principle and would like to see the government get rid of the militias, most of which pose a threat to the Sunnis. At the same time, the dominance of Shias in the government, and especially its security institutions, do not engender full confidence in Sunnis that they will be protected.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
Sunnis support a strong central government in principle and would like to see the government get rid of the militias
It’s disingenuous to equate the supporting of some strong government in principle with supporting the government actually governing Iraq.
On the other hand, Sunnis express low confidence in the Iraqi government and its security institutions. Eighty-two percent say that the Maliki government is doing a bad job. Seventy-six percent say that they have no confidence at all in the Iraqi Interior Ministry forces (often reputed to be a Shia stronghold) and 77 percent express little or no confidence that the police protect their security. The only institution that that engenders a bit of confidence is the army (perhaps because it is under a Sunni defense minister). Forty-six percent of Sunnis say they have at least some confidence in the army, though 54 percent say they have little or no confidence.
None of the institutions mentioned get a majority.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
None of the institutions mentioned get a majority.
That’s like saying "We like American democracy, but not the Bush administration." They support a strong central government, particularly one that puts the militias responsible for much of the violence out of business. They just don’t love the current incarnation because their guys aren’t in charge. But they’re buying into the process, which is what really matters.

You should be able to relate to that. Unless you think we should scrap America and start over...
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
Unless you think we should scrap America and start over...

Only once in a while...like when I’m debating youuuuuu! Ohhh snap!
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Only once in a while...like when I’m debating youuuuuu! Ohhh snap!
Clearly, you don’t understand the concept behind America. And "Ohhh, snap!" is not a very good way to divert attention from the fact that you’ve just gotten your ass handed to you. It’s not an argument, you see.

Are you fresh out of substantive rebuttal, glasnost? Have you anything more than snarky one liners left? Not so long ago, you were accusing me of making things up and asking me if I’m nuts. Now, you’re down to "Ohhh, snap!"

Lame, glasnost. Totally farging lame.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
Now, you’re down to "Ohhh, snap!"
Pablo...

Self-deprecating humor. And I wasn’t in fact sure you’d pick up on it, so I threw in a "youuuuuuuu" to make it nice and obvious.

Lighten up, tiger.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Just the facts, glasnost. For instance, self-depracating humor is supposed to be...well, self-deprecating. That was not, it was an attempt to glibly attack me, therefore your excuse is just more of your endless bullsh*t. Also, your attack failed. :-)

Obviously, Iraq is beyond your comprehension level. Maybe for tomorrow’s lesson we’ll review the First Rule of Holes.

 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
Believe whatever you want, Pablo, but it was self-deprecating humor. If you need a lesson on how to make a self-deprecating joke out of a transparently non-serious mock-personal-attack, please watch the Daily Show.
Obviously, Iraq is beyond your comprehension level.
Actually, this thread consisted of me pointing out that your opening statements were completely and flatly contradicted by facts - not very nicely, perhaps, because I was pi**ed off at the distortion, and you responding by a, attempting to rewrite the goalposts, and b, acting like a jerk.
For the most part (realizing that there are exceptions) the Iraqi violence isn’t directed against the government or controlled by it. Vast majorities of all ethinic groups support the central government and deplore the violenc
Defend this statement until the cows come home, but it is, at best, wildly innaccurate in two of three assertions, and at worst, it seemed a lot like transparent dishonesty. 80% is not an exception, and you’d be wise to take a long hard look in the mirror before you try to sell it to anyone else informed. Or even to yourself.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

 
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