Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Random thoughts

I'm about 2/3 of the way through John Robb's Brave New War. I really like it so far. Lots of interesting ideas that really get the brain moving. His disclaimer about not agreeing with everything he writes is very true. But there's more than enough good material and concepts to make up for it. Definitely one of the most insightful books I've read on the evolution of terrorism. Pessimistic about the chances of nation-states being able to counter the growing threat and agility of non-state actors.

We're going to have a petri dish to work with in Iraq, in terms of how nonstate organizations rise and evolve. I expect them to look somewhat like Hamas - an extensive social services network, including schools, infrastructure, healthcare, and most importantly, security. I'm serious! Neither Shiite nor Sunni have a use for an "official" government - you are not a legitimate government if you cannot provide security for everyone in your state, and no Iraqi government will be able to do that. Instead, I expect to see a more organic spread of security through paramilitaries. Both sides of this civil war (we're not including the Kurds) are more than capable of building support networks to fight the Americans - it's a matter of whether they can leverage these networks to build something greater.

My "good" analysis about our follies right now - Iraq is far less likely to turn into a warlord-dominated region ala Somalia or Afghanistan. The sectarian wedge has been driven down the middle, and a formerly secular society (relatively speaking, of course) has been polarized. Not much of a vacuum left to be filled, unless, as I said before, a group can provide security and infrastructure.

Other stuff to read:

A good article in the NY Times magazine about the exodus of professionals from Iraq. It's too bad - if someone could get these refugees incentive to come back (say, the promise of not getting killed), that would legitimize the incentive-giver. An Iraqi-government action is out of the question. Someone will step up within a couple of years to make this happen - I anticipate it to be much easier once the Americans leave.

Can't remember if I posted this or not, but Small Wars Journal has a nice piece on policing the transition from war to peace.

No comments: