Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Abu Khaleel's taxonomy of Iraqi chaos

Abu Khaleel has not posted for a while, but this latest offering is an example of clear thinking that might form a framework of understanding for the confusing picture of what is happening in Iraq.

The three basic elements of violent forces in Iraq:

Putting aside subjective values of good and evil for the moment, the task is to attempt to 'categorize' the various forces at play in present-day Iraq since the invasion. The objective is to understand the otherwise inexplicable events of senseless violence.

For that purpose, I propose the following broad categorization to describe the multitude of active forces that have been using mostly violent means to pursue their agenda in Iraq:

R- External-agenda Forces

G- Iraqi-agenda Forces

B- Criminal gangs

The picture is complicated for several reasons. One of which is that most groups do not publicly declare their true intents and positions. Another main reason is that the degree of interaction between the various groups is truly astounding, hence the spectacular range of colors! The most widely used vehicles have been funding and guns! The result: mostly red, innocent blood and a gray, devastated country.

Nevertheless, this picture may provide a better basis for analyzing the various forces at play in Iraq today than the "with us, against us" vision or the Sunni-Shiite view! The only assumption I make is that each group pursues its own interests and objectives without moral qualms.

This picture may serve to understand better what has been taking place in Iraq over the past few years. But, more importantly, it may serve to help look ahead at possible solutions out of the present quagmire… and why the task is so formidable! But that is another story for another day. All I wanted to do in this post was to introduce this view.

These are the thoughts of a sensible, clear-thinking Iraqi man whose only intention is conflict resolution. He has put his finger on waht seems to be the main problem, each group seems to be pursuing its own interests and objectives without moral qualms.

From what I have read none of the parties to this conflict otherwise prone to "moral qualms" hesitates to compromise whatever ramains of that morality by forming alliances or employing others devoid of all sense of guilt or shame. Kidnapping, assassination and hostage-taking seems to have become the most lucrative business in the country. And sadly, the very people who should be providing the moral brakes on such behavior -- and this includes every group advertising itself as moral, whether US forces, Sunni or Shiite clerics, or political representatives representing legitimate constituencies -- ALL at one time or another are guilty of employing criminals to accomplish whatever they imagine might be short-term advantages.

It is important to note that although all these groups have fallen short of their owen individual moral underpinnings, it does not mean that every individual in each group is equally guilty. I am reminded of Reinhold Neibuhr's Moral Man and Immoral Society which makes an important distinction between the actions and behavior of individuals versus the collective behavior of groups to which they belong.

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