Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Civil Wars

Lots of people are talking about civil wars. First there is the war in the Sudan. That is serious, and I will save that for another time. But the other two big discussions are about the possibility of civil war in Iraq, and the possible Jewish civil war in Israel. I suspect that there is a third that wought to be looked at.

First, the one in Iraq is happening. Mosques have been attacked by muslims almost since the beginning of the US overthrow of the regime. That is clearly a sign of an impending civil war, so I think that there is a chance that unless the US or Iraqi army takes strong control over Iraq, there will be a civil war. It is actually typical of Arab countries to have a civil war as soon as there is a power vaccuum. This is a way of life that goes way way back. After the prophet Mohammed, in a hurculean task, managed to unite the warring Arab tribes during his lifetime they reverted to fighting almost right after his death. That fued still goes on. That is the Sunni Shi'ite dispute. Mohammed left and there was a power vaccuum, and two groups wanted it filled.

We see the same thing in other places where there are/were power vaccuums. Take Lebanon. Lebanon's civil war was started essentially because there was no strong suppoirt for a central power, effectively creating a situation where no one group had power. Ther is much in Arab history that can support this.

Israel is different. I suspect that reports of a civil war in Israel are highly exaggerated. Israel had a civil war about 3000 years ago, but it would seem like the army would not go and attack Israelis today, even the settlers. There will no doubt be much tear gas, and perhaps even the occassional rubber bullet, but I suspect the body count in any confrontation will not come near the triple digits. The overwhelming majority of the settlers, for all their fanatacism, I would bet, could not bring themselves to open fire on the IDF. Not at all near it.

What we should all be concerned about is the impending civil war in Gaza. If Sharon pulls out, there will be a big power vaccuum in Gaza with the PLO, Hamas, and a whole plethora of religious groups, communists, moderates, and power junkies trying to wrest controll of Gaza. Currently no one has enough support to take controll and I do not see democracy emerging without a fight.

Naturally a civil war would be good for Israel in the short run, but probably not in the long run. Moreover, lots of Palestinians would get killed. Naturally someone would have to step in and do something. Either way Israel will get blamed for causing it.

It would behove the EU, UN, US, and Israel, before they rush to solve this problem, figure out how they will go about solving the one that will emerge. We do not need another Lebanon bordering Israel. We do not need another lebanon, period.

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