March 30, 2006

Filler #4 

I'm trying to begin writing my thesis, and mourning the departure of a motherboard that accompanied me through the last couple of months of experiments, so I don't really feel like writing lengthy, deep posts.

But I spotted something today. On 30 March 2006, Associated Press (through MSNBC) says:
Not so many weeks ago, this was a conflict with straightforward, if brutal, terms. Sunni insurgents and al-Qaida terrorists used car bombs, roadside bombs, suicide bomb belts and sniper rifles to target U.S. troops, Iraqi soldiers, police and civilians — mainly Shiites, the newly ascendent majority after years of Saddam Hussein’s oppression.

Terrorism with different focus
Those groups still operate and still kill. But their war has been dwarfed by the shadowy and incipient terrorism stalking the capital of Baghdad and its adjoining provinces. Or perhaps — as some Iraq officials believe — the insurgents simply switched their targets, moving from American and Iraqi troops to targeting businesses and Iraqi civilians as a way to cause chaos or to fund their work.
And it goes on for quite a while on a shall we say, less than triumphalistic tone.

But people who know something about war and conflicts (the bloggers Wretchard and Steven Den Beste, just to name a couple of name - but could not find the relevant links) are well aware of the fact that the decline of terrorist and guerrilla movements passes through a phase of criminal activity. Crime is something that revolutionary formations use most often for their own financing: the Red Brigades did it; IRA too; the Jihadis as well. The Colombian FARC are equally into Marxism, drug trafficking and estabilishing their own (failed) sub-state. And at its height the Mafia in the USA (and Italy too) had aspects in common with guerrilla movements. The border between ideological fighters and organized criminals is quite blurred.

But with dwindling commitment to the cause when victory slips further away, crime and the money it procures becomes an end in itself. Rethoric can still be used to make things look a little more respectable - "This is not a bank robbery, but a redistribution of the wealth unjustly accumulated by the burgeois exploiting the proletarians!" - you know the drill. After all, why bother with big complex things as politics when you can just live awash in money paying some lip service to higher ideals?

Of course, being most terrorists (and especially jihadis) quite well armed and accustomed to the use of violence, their criminal actions will be ruthless and bloody. However, this latest shift in Iraq seems much more a predictable phase of the decline of the insurgency rather than something new and unexpected.


I cross my fingers, but I do agree. A while ago I stopped posting about the Iraqi "civil war" (although I keep monitoring it) exactely because I'm convinced the situation is not crumbling as so many seem to think.
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