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Thomas Hobbes Was Right Anarchy Does Not Work

17th century British political philosopher Thomas Hobbes
by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Sep 22, 2006
The latest U.N. report on conditions in Iraq confirmed the wisdom of the 17th century British political philosopher Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes, a survivor of the bloody English civil wars of the 1640s, famously concluded that in the absence of any effective government, the life of human beings became "nasty, brutish and short." That, Hobbes concluded, was why even rule by a harsh tyranny was preferably to the chaos of struggling for survival under no government at all.

The latest report from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq's Human Rights office confirms the wisdom of that bleak assessment.

The report said that in July the number of violent civilian deaths in Iraq soared to a record 3,590. The figure for August, the report said, was slightly down, but it was a still a grim 3,009.

These figures confirmed statistical trends we have been monitoring in this column and our sister Iraq Benchmarks column where we have projected a possible 36,000 civilian deaths a year in Iraq even if the situation there gets no worse than it already is, and even although there are already more than 140,000 American troops stationed in the country.

That means that if the current levels of violence in Iraq continue for another three years at the current level, more than 100,000 civilians will be killed in the California-sized country of 28 million people. This level of violence and sustained intensity of killing would be as bad as anything seen in Bosnia and Croatia in the early 1990s, more than 50 times as bad as the worst year in Northern Ireland, and easily as bad as the worst years of the Lebanese civil war, which saw death tolls of up to 150,000 in all.

The continued violence, unfortunately, also serves to confirm our assessment that the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is a government in name only and unable to assert its writ anywhere beyond the Green Zone in Baghdad without the backing of U.S. forces, or independent Iraqi Shiite militia or both.

And although there are on paper now 300,000 men in the new combined Iraqi police and army, they appear to be either unable or unwilling or both to take any effective action to confront either the Sunni militias that oppose them or the Shiite ones that sometimes oppose them and sometimes cooperate with them.

Further, there is no guarantee that the conflict has reached its worst levels and that it will now "bottom out." Some 710 civilians were killed in Iraq in January according to the U.N. figures. That seemed like a bad enough total at the time, and there was a widespread hope in the U.S. Congress and among U.S. policymakers that once the next Iraqi government was established, it would give firm leadership to the Iraqi security forces and conditions would improve.

Instead, the opposite has happened. In July, according to the U.N. figures, civilian killings were 500 percent worse than they were in January. They were slightly better in August, but still more than 400 percent worse than the January figures. And the latest wave of killings across Iraq offers no hope that conditions will continue to improve in any significant way.

"These figures reflect the fact that the indiscriminate killings of civilians have continued throughout the country, while hundreds of bodies appear bearing signs of severe torture and execution style killing," the U.N. report said. "Such murders are carried out by death squads or by armed groups, with sectarian or revenge connotations."

At the highest levels of the Bush administration, the president and his top lieutenants still appear to be in denial at the meaning of these figures, statistical trends and report conclusions, but their meaning is very clear. "Belfast rules" and "Beirut rules," as we have noted repeatedly in these columns, now operate throughout Iraq.

Figures on the number of troops theoretically on the rolls of the Iraqi army and police are in fact meaningless since in engagement after engagement, Iraqi forces have shown a marked reluctance to sustain significant casualties against insurgent forces and especially against Shiite militias. The problems U.S. policymakers face can therefore be only expected to grow more intractable.

Source: United Press International

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Iraq Study A Long Way From Over
Washington (UPI) Sep 21, 2006
After six months of research, including a recent trip to Iraq, the Iraq Study Group has made no recommendations. The two co-chairmen, former Secretary of State James Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., wouldn't discuss during a press briefing Monday what might be included in their final report or when it might be released.







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