Patrolling Baghdad

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With Americans still unable to establish order in Baghdad, who will protect Iraqi lives and homes? Well, how about the Iraqis themselves?

"Over the past week, gunmen have arrived here sometimes during the day and sometimes at night, unseen," Todd Richissin of the Baltimore Sun reports from the neighborhood formerly known as Saddam City. "They fire weapons at whatever moves, then try to get away.

"So men and boys have been patrolling the streets with their Kalashnikov rifles fully loaded, have set up their own roadblocks leading into the city, using bricks or stones or bedsprings or pieces of wood with spikes pounded into them.

"They stop visitors at gunpoint to interrogate them about their intentions, where they live, why they are coming into their neighborhood if they do not live here, because there is really no reason to enter if not to return to a crumbling mud-brick house…"

Update: Here's some more on Iraqi self-defense.

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  1. “They stop visitors at gunpoint to interrogate them about their intentions, where they live, why they are coming into their neighborhood if they do not live here…”

    I don’t understand why they think these are locals. It just sounds like the New Orleans Police Department to me.

  2. Sounds like they have things pretty well under control. Could this be the start of an orderly society?

  3. Yes indeed! I have been asking much the same question and making much the same suggestion on samizdata.net

    http://www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/003326.html

  4. I heard something on NPR this morning about Marines searching a Baath official’s house. A neighbor and his son came out to investigate with AK-47s, and were promptly shot by the Marines. Yesterday, there were pictures of vigilantes guarding a hospital and shooting at any passing vehicle that looked like it was hauling loot.

    Isolated incidents, yes. But troubling nonetheless. I don’t know if I’d characterize things as well under control.

  5. Anarchy in action. Like anything else, it has its pros and cons. But ultimately, I think they’re gonna want an organized state with rules and accountability. Boring and hoary (a word I learned from reading Brian Doherty), I know, but nevertheless true.

  6. The Shi’ite areas seem to be pretty good by themselves, as were the Kurd controlled parts of Kirkuk and Mosul before we made them leave. It looks like the only big trouble are in the Baathist dominated Sunni areas now controled by the US.

  7. I’m all for leaving guns in the hands of Iraqi citizens… small-bore, non-AK47s, but give them the right to bear arms AND the responsibility that comes with that right. (For more on this, see W.Whittle’s http://www.ejectejecteject.com)

    When all the good folks give up their guns, it is VERY easy for bullies to start pumping up their own steroids, and -Wowzah!- another Saddamn tyrant!

  8. >> Actually, the ubiquity of firearms was a leading reason why a strong central government never formed there, and a gand of semi-literate thugs were able to take over.

  9. The people of Iraq owned lots of guns under Saddam. The people of Afghanistan owned lots of guns under, and before, the Taliban. Actually, the ubiquity of firearms was a leading reason why a strong central government never formed there, and a gand of semi-literate thugs were able to take over.

    A militarized society doesn’t deter tyrants, it produces them.

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