Shi'a Power

|

With functional authority in parts of Iraq devolving to traditional Shi'a clerics, are U.S. troops confronted with a nascent theocracy, a spontaneous stateless order—or a bit of both? Discuss.

NEXT: D.I.Y. Satellite Reporting

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Well, first ya gotta define “state”…oh, that’s the whole point of your question!!!

    Offhand, I’d say it’s a state when it’s recognized as such. But then, that’s typical of how I define things. I say “jazz” is whatever people who consider themselves jazz listeners think it is. Thus, some music may have many or all the significant attributes of jazz, but if for some reason jazz listeners don’t think it is, I’d say, whelp, guess it ain’t.

    So if people within the clerics’ domain recognize their authority as having “legal” basis and being backed by a legitimate (and the only legitimate) use of force, then I’d say we could maybe sorta call it a “state.”

    Maybe we should define “spontaneous,” too, cause once you start thinking about these things, the lines all start to blur…………

  2. I thought the US was the hegemon in Iraq?

  3. I still think giving them a constitution that severely restricts government is a good idea. No income tax (as consistent with our initial constitution), so as to give them a real chance for prosperity. Let’s have the folks over at Cato design it with an eye towards keeping it more air-tight. They want us to leave, so we tell them if they adopt this rather libertarian constituion, then we leave. If they transgress against it…we tell them we’ll be back. Maybe it’ll do us some good too, as it might bring the troops home before the Pentagon and the neo-cons can talk Bush into invading Syria.

  4. Only problem is: if they DID transgress against it, could a principled libertarian really advocate going back in?

  5. Good question Julian. When you get yourself
    into a statist situation it seems like its hard get out and be fair. What about if we bluffed really well so as to improve the odds. “And listen you guys; Boy, the government that violates any free speech or freedom of enterprise or ANY freedoms in your new constitution is gonna get it so bad. Why we’ll bring the troops back and make Saddam look like Ghandi…” OK lying isn’t good either but maybe its better than another incursion. What about a private army? Hard to sell that idea. OK, Julian your right, principle first; the stick half of my proposition
    isn’t fair. No sticks. What was I thinking? So how about a biannual prize for the Iraqi government leaders who maintain freedom and their constitution. Drawn from A world wide prize fund
    including Arab countries. No tax dollars of course. They adopt the libertarian “Iraqie Freedom Constitution” and the troops leave. They keep it and they get big bucks. Sound Better?

  6. I will try to explain this to you, Stinker. I will try to go very slowly.

    THERE IS NO NEOCON “CONSPIRACY.” Except for a few fringe characters, no one is CLAIMING that there is a neocon “conspiracy.” There is a loose and very open network of neoconservative (and regular-conservative) pundits, publications, and presidential advisers. That’s it.

    The word “neocon” has been around since the 1970s. It means a particular sort of conservative who’s hawkish, pro-Israel, and interested in a specific set of domestic reforms. The first generation of neocons were former Tortskyists and former Scoop Jackson Democrats. The second generation has been right-wing all their lives, but they’re following the ideology laid out by the first generation.

    Many neocons are Jewish. Many are not Jewish. And most Jews are not neocons. ABSOLUTELY NO ONE HAS EVER USED “NEOCON” AS A SYNONYM FOR “JEW.” Like the idea that any talk of neocon “influence” MUST be talk of a neocon “conspiracy,” the idea that “neocon” must mean “Jew” is a ridiculous strawman set up by the neocons themselves.

  7. “Except for a few fringe characters, no one is CLAIMING that there is a neocon “conspiracy.” There is a loose and very open network of neoconservative (and regular-conservative) pundits, publications, and presidential advisers. That’s it.”

    I agree with most of this, except there isn’t just a “few” fringe charaters that believe that there is a neocon conspiricy. Take a scan of any far-left or far-right (“paleo”) site or publication, specifically those that are anti-war. Take a look at Rick’s posts. There is a lot more than a few.

    “ABSOLUTELY NO ONE HAS EVER USED “NEOCON” AS A SYNONYM FOR “JEW.”

    Untrue, many avowed anti-semites do use this analogy.

    “Like the idea that any talk of neocon “influence” MUST be talk of a neocon “conspiracy,” the idea that “neocon” must mean “Jew” is a ridiculous strawman set up by the neocons themselves.”

    Ahh yes the old “The Jews were the ones that really wrote the Elders of Zion” bit. Sorry I have seen plenty of evidence that there are many who do really think there is a “neocon conspiricy.”

    If YOU really believe that there is no conspircy, why get all excited when I post something that agrees with your arugment and DEBUNKS the conspircy theory? Instead (classic tinfoil hat) you semm to take a DEBUNKING column to be part of the conspircy. It is a logical as if I posted an article debunking UFO theories and you claimed that the UFOs were the ones writing the articles.

  8. If I may step in…

    It’s more like if you went around claiming that all Democrats believe in UFOs, and that the proof of this is that they keep attacking “President Bush’s tax cuts,” which, you assert, is code for “flying saucers.”

    If someone pointed out that Democrats don’t believe in UFOs, you’d say that that’s not true, because you were reading a UFO magazine the other day and one of the writers was clearly a Democrat.

    If someone pointed out that he opposes President Bush’s tax cuts without believing in flying saucers, you’d ask why it is, then, that he keeps using the phrase “tax cuts,” when everyone knows that’s code for UFOs.

    And if someone pointed out that “tax cuts” does *not* mean “flying saucers,” you’d say, “If YOU believe there is no UFO conspiracy, why get so excited when I post something that agrees with your argument and DEBUNKS the conspiracy theory?”

  9. Jesse:

    “It’s more like if you went around claiming that all Democrats believe in UFOs, and that the proof of this is that they keep attacking “President Bush’s tax cuts,” which, you assert, is code for “flying saucers.””

    No, it would be me asserting that a UFO conspiricy does not exist. (And I didn’t say ALL of anybody in my post, I mentioned Rick and several right and left sites with an anti-war bent. Many of these are sited in the Chronicle story I linked to)

    “If someone pointed out that Democrats don’t believe in UFOs, you’d say that that’s not true, because you were reading a UFO magazine the other day and one of the writers was clearly a Democrat.”

    No, I would point out that particular Democrat is a fool for assuming that a UFO conspiricy exists. And if such a theory was mentioned on a political site I would also point it out as a dangerous and unfounded position, given the history of unjustly oppressing and scapgoating Alien Beings (and yes not all Aliens fly UFOs and not all the UFOs are Aliens, it just so happens that most of the UFOs are Aliens).

    “If someone pointed out that he opposes President Bush’s tax cuts without believing in flying saucers, you’d ask why it is, then, that he keeps using the phrase “tax cuts,” when everyone knows that’s code for UFOs.”

    The specific policies are only relevent if those who favor tax cuts also tend to believe in UFO conspiricies. If suddenly tax cuts are in the forefront of the news and those who are generally in favor of tax cuts start ranting about UFO conspiricies being behind it, there will be those like myself who point out on message boards that such conspiricy theory is horseshit and stinks of anti-Alienism.

    In addition, I may also post strories debunking the said UFO Conspiricy Theory. And when people get excited about that and claim that the story debunking the UFO Theory is incorrect because there is no consprity — but also then claim the story was really being placed by the UFOs to protect the non-existant conspircy theory, I will ask:

    “If YOU believe there is no UFO conspiracy, why get so excited when I post something that agrees with your argument and DEBUNKS the conspiracy theory?”

  10. Is that you, Laz?

  11. How’s about a few gun laws around that place? Nope, nope. Sorry. That’s too much like actual governance.

  12. Warning! Expect no rational or honest debate from
    “Mr. Stinker” on the neo-con issue. Expect only
    name calling and obfuscation (both intentional and as a result of his ignorance of the subject.)
    To see how bad it can get, check out, roughly the last quarter of, the April 25 thread “Too much faith in Democracy”. It will show that posting off topic is the least of “Mr.Stinker”s offences. Also, I strongly suspect him of using aliases to agree with Himself. “Stretch” somebody. No proof though. Check it out.

    Since its been brought up now, for a conservative critique of the neo-cons see:
    see: //amconmag.com/04_21_03/cover.html from the April 21 issue of “The American Conservative” Also see: //www.lewrockwell.com/callahan/callahan106.html

    Back on topic. The “spontaneous stateless order”
    route for Iraq should be seriously explored as it has worked well in Somalia which also has an ethnically diverse population. See the April issue of “Liberty” article “From Nation State to Stateless Nation”

  13. Lefty wrote:

    “How’s about a few gun laws around that place? Nope, nope. Sorry. That’s too much like actual governance.”

    No, more like to easy a route to despotism.

  14. “Mr. Stinker” wrote:

    “Why does Rick object so much about the background of the “neocons””

    Ive never objected to anything about the background of the neocons. Their hyper-interventionist advocacies is what I object to.
    As you can see “Mr. Stinker” has no compunctions about misrepresenting what others have posted.
    Sorry to bring it up here but he stated this fabrication about what Ive said on this thread. I will ignore though, any further off topic comments he makes.

  15. Julien:

    “if they DID transgress against it, could a principled libertarian really advocate going back in?”

    Why not put a provision in the Iraqi Constitution requiring US intervention if it is violated? Problem solved.


    Actually Rick has some good ideas. See how nice it is Rick to actually THINK instead of ranting about abstractions and phantoms?

    Lefty’s comment is idiotic as usual — guns for the Clerics, none for the non-shias. How prescription for genocide is “real governance” is beyond me.

  16. For Rick:

    “The Neoconservative-Conspiracy Theory: Pure Myth”
    http://chronicle.com/free/v49/i34/34b01401.htm

  17. “The “spontaneous stateless order”
    route for Iraq should be seriously explored as it has worked well in Somalia.”

    Pretending Somalia has been anything but a raging hellhole since the collapse of its central government is just wishful thinking on the part of anarchists. Somalia is, by any rational standard, a poster child for why people fear weak central government. Maybe you should focus on Iceland.

  18. In addition to being completely off-topic, the Chronicle piece is a moronic piece of strawman-bashing. Only idiots believe that “neoconservative” is code for “Jew,” or that anyone who talks about neocon influence must ipso fact be speaking of a “conspiracy.” Are you really this stupid, Mr. Stinker, or do you just assume that *we’re* stupid?

  19. Rick,

    Constitutional government worked here because people believed in its principles. If the Iraqi people don’t have a basic appreciation for and belief in something that we impose on them, I don’t think any amount of threatening will make the imposed system last.

    Stinker,

    Including such a clause in the Iraqi constitution would only solve libertarian problems with re-invading them if it were taken to imply that Iraq remains under US sovereignty. This obviously runs the danger of further alienating the Iraqi populace (and the rest of the Moslem world, of course). But then, sigh, it may still be the best solution. But panacea, hardly.

  20. Mr. No-name: I don’t assume it. Name names in this neocon conspircy. Explain to us what you mean by “neocon.”

    Then answer this: Was the Irishness or Catholicism of anyone a factor for the Northern Ireland polices? So why is the Jewishness of anyone a factor for the Mideast? Why does Rick object so much about the background of the “neocons”, while not asking if anyone with influence is German or Japanese or Korean or Lutheren or Buddist or Shinto, as these nations are also clearly part of the “American Empire” – something stinks here, 1930s style

  21. Rick,

    I read comments on this message board a week or two ago about how great Somalia was doing, and so I read a little about it.

    No doubt some of the good effects entepreneurial capitalism can be found in Somalia, but it takes a skewed perspective to say the situation has been something to shoot for in Iraq.

    Firstly, the current anarchy includes the Aidid era. You cannot simply say that since right now things are more stable that it is proof that anarchy works, and ignore that the immediate aftermath of the Barre government was a result of the same anarchy.

    Secondly, aside from the phone service all the online libertarian crackpots rave about, the situation is not much better than it was circa 1993. Somalia is still a starving nation ruled by tribalism and roving bands of gunmen, who travel the countyside raping dispossed women and stealing whatever they like.

    Somalia will continue to improve, and as it does, it will form a government (as they are trying to do now) which will further improve its lot. In the mean time, it is nowhere a sane human would want to live, and nothing any sensible person would think is a model for reconstruction.

  22. “I read a little about it.”

    Please tell us what.

    “You cannot simply say that since right now things are more stable that it is proof that anarchy works, and ignore that the immediate aftermath of the Barre government was a result of the same anarchy.”

    “same anarchy” ? When the dictator Siad Barre was deposed in 1991 the two candidates to succeed him
    deadlocked. By good fortune, niether would concede and this state of limbo, where military and civil servents went unpaid broke the government. What followed was a power vacuum where millitary officials sided with politicians to re-establish central governments on a town by town basis. They imposed taxes and bandits took advantage of the situation to commit crimes with impunity. The clans resisted the re-imposition of central government. This power vacuum can hardly be likened to the anarchy now, where clan law keeps order with very libertarian private court rules. Read the article for all the details. The guy that wrote it actually lived there until his death.

    “Somalia is still a starving nation”
    I don’t know if thats accurate at all but they are
    certainly more prosperous then under the central government and by all accounts getting more so. Read the Liberty article!

    “ruled by tribalism”

    No it isn’t its “ruled” by clan law which has, at the least, drasticly curtaied the incidence of:

    ” … roving bands of gunmen, who travel the countyside raping dispossed women and stealing whatever they like.”

    “Somalia will continue to improve, and as it does, it will form a government (as they are trying to do now)… ”

    There have been a more than a dozen unsuccessful attempts to re-impose a central government including those by fundamentalist Muslims who want a theocracy and a UN invasion. The vast majority are opposed to these attempts. Things have improved to much.

    “…form a government … which will further improve its lot.”

    A statement of “faith” if there ever was one!

  23. For a synopsys of the liberty article see:http://www.antiwar.com/bock/bockcol.html

  24. JDM
    I can tell from what you wrote

    “Pretending Somalia has been anything but a raging hellhole since the collapse of its central government…”

    that you know nothing about the situation. By almost any measure the people are better off. No civil war. Private enterprise provides essential
    services from trash collection to telecom. Parents and teachers have started schools for their children. A university has even been built.
    Exports are way way up. Were talking an East African nation here. Its amazing. The story has many aspects. Read the article! I think Atlantic Monthly carried one on the situation as well.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.