Sunday, 30 March 2008
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Monday, 10 March 2008
Thursday, 6 March 2008
It was just as bad, if not worse, for young Sunnis. Rubbed raw by Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown Sunni insurgent group that American intelligence says is led by foreigners, they found themselves stranded in neighborhoods that were governed by seventh-century rules. During an interview with a dozen Sunni teenage boys in a Baghdad detention facility on several sticky days in September, several of them expressed relief at being in jail, so they could wear shorts, a form of dress they would have been punished for in their neighborhoods.
Story here and also here.
It doesn't seem hard for me to imagine that promoting segregation could actually make things worse, not just between communities, but also within them. If religion is encouraged as the primary identity of people it just gives more power to religious leaders, and religious leaders have obviously a vested interest in building the power of their own sect rather than in developing a tolerant open society. That was certainly the view I came away with from growing up in Ireland, and I wouldn't wish such a situation on anybody.
Wednesday, 5 March 2008
Towards the end of the programme, another guest, Ronan Bennett, asked her in her capacity as an adviser to Barack Obama whether as president Obama would pull out of Iraq. Part of her answer surprised me - here it is in full:
"Yes, I think one of the things that he's done though, that sets him apart from his colleagues in the Democratic Party and on the left, is actually developed a plan for responsible withdrawal, which to you might sound like an excuse for staying but is in fact a planning process that would actually put Iraqis central to our thinking about how we get out, so it would involve fair notice, and moving potentially people from mixed neighborhoods to homogenous neighborhoods, tragic that it's the equivalent of facilitating ethnic cleansing, which is terrible but if that is the choice of people there, massive refugee assistance initiatives so that neighboring countries actually open their borders again because they've been sealed for a long time, so the short answer is his best guess right now, from talking to military people, is that you could get all combat brigades out within eighteen months, but you also have to embed in it some consideration of what is happening to Iraqis as you go. But his objective would be both to be able to focus on Afghanistan and in quotes deal with al Qaeda, and I think we have to learn to live with insecurity in the way that people in this country have lived with it, but also in order to restore American standing longterm."
- Apologies for that unwieldy paragraph, but I didn't want to seem to be taking anything out of context.
The bit that surprised me was "...moving potentially people from mixed neighborhoods to homogenous neighborhoods, tragic that it's the equivalent of facilitating ethnic cleansing, which is terrible but if that is the choice of people there..."
Samantha Power is obviously more knowledgeable about ethnic cleansing than I am, as she's best known for her book on genocide, so I find it strange that she's advocating entrenching the results of terror in a way that is likely to increase sectarianism rather than overcome it. And I find it bizarre to talk about this as a choice by Iraqis, as the population shifts have been as a result of terror carried out by the minority of violent thugs on each side of the divide.
I also find it strange to suggest that Barack Obama would wish to enable segregation rather than combat it, albeit segregation in Iraq rather than the US. Is that really his thinking?
I have a follow up post on this topic here.
Saturday, 1 March 2008
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