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Reading Tea Leaves in Iraq

by Christopher Chantrill
February 02, 2007 at 11:44 am

THE BIG PROBLEM for us war-mongers is to know what is really going down in Iraq.  Is Iraq in a civil war?  Is the conflict there a religious war of Sunni vs. Shia?  Is all the violence being orchestrated by Iran? Is everything lost?  Or is everyone posturing for the cameras, cynically manipulated images of violence as the cheapest way to influence US policy?

First of all, writes Iranian Amir Taheri, we should understand that the war is not simply a “sectarian” war.  A sectarian war was what they had in Yugoslavia. And he was there.

You could be sure that almost all Serbs, from the taxi driver that took you from the airport to the hotel to the nation’s leading poet, would be a sectarian - hating the Croats and the Muslims with passion.
...
Nothing of the sort exists in Iraq today. The deadly disease of sectarianism has not contaminated the majority of Iraqis. Shiites and Sunnis both organize on the basis of political affiliations and interests, rather than sectarian loyalties.

So what is going down in Iraq?

What is happening in Iraq, however, is neither a civil nor a sectarian war (although elements of both exist within the broader context). This war is a political one - between those who wish Iraq to succeed as a new democracy and those who want it to fail.

The folks who want Iraq to fail include Saddamites, “death squads financed by Tehran,” not to mention the al-Qaeda foreigners.

The question for the United States is this: What exactly does victory in Iraq mean?

Maybe it is simply this.  Defeat the Saddamites.  Defeat the Iranian death squads.  And defeat the foreign terrorists of al-Qaeda.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


 TAGS


Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill