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“There is only fear and horror”

The UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Human Rights has recorded the death of 133 women in Basra, 79 for breaking ‘Islamic laws’ and 42 ‘honour killings’, though this does not add up to the total number of deaths. In 2007, the grip of conservative Shi’a militias on Basra tightened after the withdrawal of the British army and hastened the atmosphere of fear that grips the women of that city.

Sawsan, another woman who works at a university, says the message from the radicals to women is simple: “They seem to be sending us a message to stay at home and keep your mouth shut.”

After the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Sawsan says, the situation was “the best.” But now, she says, it’s “the worst.”

“We thought there would be freedom and democracy and women would have their rights. But all the things we were promised have not come true. There is only fear and horror.”

The control of the militias has resulted in barbaric and violent actions designed to cow the inhabitants of Basra and enforce the power of the gangs. The punishment of infractions is designed to ensure that the militias maintain their control over their neighbourhoods, their families and their women. Such examples are deemed to be required by the militia since well-educated, civilised women had more freedom and, therefore, more to lose. The insecurity of the militia fuels their violence:

One glance through the police file is enough to understand the consequences. Basra’s police chief, Gen. Abdul Jalil Khalaf, flips through the file, pointing to one unsolved case after another.

“I think so far, we have been unable to tackle this problem properly,” he says. “There are many motives for these crimes and parties involved in killing women, by strangling, beheading, chopping off their hands, legs, heads.”

“When I came to Basra a year ago,” he says, “two women were killed in front of their kids. Their blood was flowing in front of their kids, they were crying. Another woman was killed in front of her 6-year-old son, another in front of her 11-year-old child, and yet another who was pregnant.”

The killers enforcing their own version of Islamic justice are rarely caught, while women live in fear.

Boldly splattered in red paint just outside the main downtown market, a chilling sign reads: “We warn against not wearing a headscarf and wearing makeup. Those who do not abide by this will be punished. God is our witness, we have notified you.”

The security forces in Basra are unable to protect the population from the actions of the gangs. Western charities may wring their hands and salve their threadbare consciences by blaming the security forces for not achieving miracles. Yet, these militia members are cowards and maim or kill their victims because they are defenceless. These barbarians would think twice about inflicting pain if their victims were well-armed rather than unarmed and could shoot back.

It is of lasting shame that Britain scuttled back to the airport and left Basra in the hands of these lunatics.

31 comments to “There is only fear and horror”

  • Were I a younger woman, without children, and a decade younger, it would be the goal of my existence to educate and arm these women. I know fighting a religion is significantly more difficult than fighting a regime, but I’d give it a helluva try.

  • Nick M

    The rot set in long before our ignominious retreat to the airport. Remember that incident at the Basra “police station”? The British Army (no doubt on orders from the politicos) were all softly, softly and attempted to talk with the Shia militias.

    The should have made them fear something more than they fear their dismal Allah. A Good Start would have been crucifying Moqtada al-Sadr on a mosque door.

    We did it once to a rable-rousing mullah in India, with cavalry sabres.

    Harsh? Yes. Brutal? Oh, yes. But how else do you make the goose-stepping jackanapes of the Mehdi “Army” take a good long hard look at their lives.

    They rule through fear and through their capacity to horrify through the depravity of their violence. The only solution to that is to show the evil fucks that they’re only A-level vicious and we’ve gotta Dphil from Oxford and a PhD from Harvard.

    Instead we allowed the British Army to be beaten by a bunch of raggedy-assed fascist vermin.

    Hazel’s got a good point. After a few of these scumbags had taken a 9mm round to the bollocks their pals might also have been given pause for thought.

  • Hazel has it right, train and arm the women and the men will fall into line if they value their nuptuals. I know form experience that women have the capacity to be just as vicious, if not more so, than men. A P.E. teacher at my school though it would be a great idea if the boys played the girls, once at rugby and once at hockey. Even without weapons they ran us ragged at rugby, you can imagine what happened when we played them at hockey. Alot of teenage misogynists changed their spots that day.

    Arm the women, do it now, and then support their retaliation. Time these neanderthals grew up, they obviously don’t want to do it the easy way so the hard way it is.

  • Ian B

    A few imams’ heads on pikes along the public thoroughfares early on would have nipped all this in the bud, of course.

  • Nick M

    Ian B,
    Wasn’t that pretty much what I said?

    Of course the I-Ranians are stirring the pot and it really didn’t help when lil’ Art Batchelor blubbed over his I-Pod.

    They all need to have the Shi’ite kicked out of them in a way that leaves them as little honour as possible.

    Meeting up and taking tea with these people…

    Oh dear! It was 29 past clobbering o’clock in 2001. They think we’re pussies. And yet we still talk about “The Religion of Peace” and dialogue.

    These people should have been made to fall in awe before the glory of the West. A glory that shines far brighter than Allah’s tawdry knocking-shop in the sky.

    Failing that, it would’ve been great if the British Army had organised shooting classes and distributed weapons to women there. It would have put a weed up the asses of the mullahs in oh so many ways…

    Damn fine idea, Hazel!

  • Ian B

    Yes Nick, but I wanted to say it as well :)

  • Arming the women is indeed a fine idea in theory, but you are forgetting one thing: these are not western-style single, independent career women who live on their own. These women have fathers/brothers/husbands with whom they actually live in the same home. Ask yourselves where are these men, what are their views on the matter? I can bet you good money that many, if not the majority of these men, are part of the problem, and those who are not, are probably unarmed and scared as much as their women. I think that arming the general civilian population is not a bad idea at all, but it will not solve the problems until Nick’s and Ian’s approach is adopted.

  • Lascaille

    Saying that ‘this can be avoided by arming all the women’ is a bit like saying that the holocaust could have been avoided if all the jews armed themselves, or that apartheit would have been impossible if all the south african blacks had armed themselves. There’s no shortage of AK47s in Iraq…

    People as individuals do not think of themselves as part of a group and are generally unlikely to act to defend that ‘group’ or their status within it. You’d need to get the women all together into camps etcetera or have them go to the market or wherever in armed groups.

    The alternative would be one woman goes, armed, defends herself from a gang of militants, kills one, the rest kill her, then go and kill her family, children, etcetera as reprisals for ‘encouraging the breaking of god’s law.

    Disorganised groups cannot defend themselves from organised groups of raiders.

  • spence

    Lasting shame? I don’t think so, it was no part of the Army’s role to stay in Basra forever. I’m afraid that there are problems in the middle east, in Iraq and elsewhere, that precede Britain’s involvement by many centuries and wouldn’t disappear if the British Army sat in Basra for a hundred years.

    The goals of the assault and occupation, as stated in Parliament and on various Government websites, were met – however imperfectly. We did what was set out by the Government, the Government was quite clear about the aims, when there were sufficient local forces available that they could handle the situation we removed ourselves.

    Just because the local forces have not, for whatever reason, chosen to intervene as you might wish doesn’t make the goals and actions of Britain invalid. We did what we said we’d do, we held the ground until sufficient local forces were trained such that they could, if they wished, impose order. Lastly, I should add that much of the violence remaining in Basra was directed at, and caused by, our presence – Basra is a lot more peaceful now because we moved out of public view. So whilst some bad things may have become more prevalent, outright conflict (inflicting many casualties, mainly Iraqi) around British bases has been eliminated.

    Personally I’m proud of the job the Army has done, I wouldn’t sacrifice any more of them for Iraq. Problems of Iraqi gangsterism and religious totalitarianism would not have been solved by the Army staying in Basra, as such I can’t accept that the comment about Britain is in any way correct.

  • Sunfish

    Arming the women is indeed a fine idea in theory, but you are forgetting one thing: these are not western-style single, independent career women who live on their own.

    +10-freaking-thousand.

    It doesn’t matter what kinds of tools or toys you give the victims in a situation like this. If they’re accustomed to submitting to the nonsense that orthodox Islam inflicts upon women, then the mere fact of having weapons won’t do any good. The victims simply won’t protect themselves, because they can’t break through the psychological barrier that says it’s wrong for them to stick up for themselves.

    Hell, you see that same barrier in Western women all the time, women who, despite being self-described “feminists” (whatever that word means this week) and demanding equal standing, think it’s not okay to protect themselves when threatened. And this in a society that recognizes that women have the same right to do so that men have.

    There’s a story from 1990, Gulf War One. A female USAF blue-blanket was guarding a parked and loaded F-16. A member of the Saudi religious police somehow got onto the flight line and saw her. He showed the same reaction that you’d expect from a Sharia enforcer at the sight of a woman with an M-16, and he went to whip her. It did not go well for him: three rounds through the chest will ruin anyone’s day.

    The thing is, a Saudi woman would probably not have done that. She’d all too likely have just submitted, despite having the ability to effectively protect herself. Resistance is sometimes just a completely foreign concept.

    Actually, you see this with long-time chronic domestic abuse victims as well.

    “Just because a man has a gun, does not make him armed.” -Jeff Cooper.

    Count me in with Ian B and Nick, and with General Napier, who addressed this point so well over a century ago.

  • permanentexpat

    The man/woman thing is an everlasting conundrum & I’m the last qualified to have an opinion.

    It is useful, however, to bear in mind how often, in cases of domestic violence in the UK, the serially battered wife says: “He didn’t really mean it..he’s really very nice you know. I love him.”

  • Robert

    Boldly splattered in red paint just outside the main downtown market, a chilling sign reads: “We warn against not wearing a headscarf and wearing makeup. Those who do not abide by this will be punished. God is our witness, we have notified you.”

    One method is to put on a mask at night, paint over that warning. Hiding in the shadows with a rifle, wait for one of the Islamists to replace the sign, kill him in secret. Of course, this only works if one possesses the will to do so as Sunfish noted.

  • Pa Annoyed

    Fascinating. Everyone knows that the task of maintaining law and order should not be granted to the state or military, but to local armed militias. But when we see what happens when you do, it is now a matter of shame that our state forces retreated and left it in the hands of such militias?

    Never mind, we know the answer. An armed militia of women who will defend themselves against the militias of local men. If only the Iraqis were allowed guns!

    Except that the Iraqis do own guns. There’s at least one in every household in Iraq – usually an AK-47. $100 a piece on the street for a cheap Chinese knock-off. Plenty of hand guns too. And nobody bothers with licenses either. They’re more gun-liberal than the USA!

    Could it be that women aren’t allowed or don’t know how to use guns? Nope. And of course, while there are quite a few misogynist husbands about, many brothers, husbands, and fathers will willingly defend their female relatives. Not all men are bastards.

    Try thinking seriously about what would be involved in this idea of armed women defending themselves against gangs of armed men. First, all the women would have to be armed all the time. Even the ones who don’t like guns, who are elderly, or who are too young. Try juggling a gun and heavy shopping or an armful of children sometime. Second, the first time she’ll maybe blow the guy’s nuts off, but the second time he’ll have all his friends with him. Doesn’t bear thinking on. Third, the militias are the community defenders. Start fighting them, and not only will they be after you, but you’ll be left vulnerable to all the outsiders they’re defending everyone against. Fourth, with the sort of people it involves shooting it will start massive blood feuds. In honour societies these can often go on for centuries. Fifth, some of this involves close family. Everyone has to sleep, and women are at least as vulnerable to men then as men are to women. And there are children to protect and men tend to earn the money – there are other forms of coercion other than violence. Sixth, anyone is vulnerable when ambushed alone, and not everyone can go round in groups in armoured personnel carriers. The US soldiers have buddies and body armour (and can call in air support). If Mrs Hajji has to take all that with her just to pop down to the shops for some butter, …

    Also I don’t trust media stories like this. My first reaction on reading this was, how many women are there in Basra and what’s that as a percentage? My second thought was, what are the statistics on women or their male relatives shooting other men over them attacking women? I can’t believe that nobody is shooting back. I’m also thinking that stories like this are designed to intimidate women into submitting – they can’t kill or force into submission every woman in Basra, but if they can give the impression through the media that the threat is far worse than it is, they multiply their strength enormously. Whose strength do we want to multiply – the civilised forces trying to save people and help rebuild, or the nutters trying to wreck it?
    Whose side are CNN on, do you think?

    But ultimately my thinking is that this is a matter for the Iraqis to sort out. The idea that the British can or should install a puppet society that will run the place as we think it should be run is not practical. This sort of behaviour will be stopped only when Iraqis as a society decide to stop it. And its the same as all the other seismic shifts in Iraqi society recently. It’s not a matter of what the Americans or British did or did not do, it’s a matter of when the Iraqis had experienced enough of the fruits of anarchy to organise themselves and build their society themselves. Everybody talks about the state of Iraq as if it was entirely the Americans’ or British’ fault, as if it was us running the place and telling everyone what to do, but they all forget the third and most important partner in this enterprise: the Iraqis. Nation-building has always been the Iraqis’ task, ours has only ever been to hold open a space in which they might do it.

    It took us hundreds of years to get where we are, and to refine our society to achieve the degree of peaceful co-existence and tolerance we have. It is an incredible and grossly under-appreciated achievement – “civilised” behaviour is not the default. You only have to look at several countries in Africa to know how badly it could have gone. Considering the hell they have been through over the last thirty years, the Iraqis are doing marvellously well. Think of it as like an abused child rescued and now struggling to adjust in a foster home. It takes time.

  • Robert

    Taking note of Pa Annoyed’s post, I would venture to guess that the majority of women in Basra probably support the killings.

  • Nick M

    spence,
    No. It was always implicit that at least part of the goal was to improve the lot of the Iraqis. We have merely replaced one tyranny with another. Moreover, please explain quite how allowing religious fanatics to take-over (aren’t they the enemy in the GWoT anyway) in anyway helps stability in the ME? And bear in my mind these aren’t just any fanatics these buggers are backed by the Ayatollahs in Iran and NOTHING they do is positive, ever. No, spence, it’s not good.

    Alisa, Sunfish,
    Points taken. Yup, you’re right alas. Of course it was infidel soldiers in Arabia in ’90 that really flipped OBL’s lid. Especially women doing stuff like wearing trousers, carrying guns and (horrors!!!) driving.

    But, heck, you don’t have to go to Basra to see the fear and the horror. This is from the Indy and is a front page splash in the print version. Interestingly, The Sunday Times also has this article on it’s front page too. Note Ann Cryer’s use of the word “medieval”.

    Perhaps the Archclown of Canterbury has done us all a good turn afterall. Although after the last week or so I’d be more than happy to turn on the news for once and not hear the word “Muslim”.

    It’s a lovely day here. I think I may have a djinn & tonic on the patio latter.

    See, it’s got to me as well!

  • spence

    I’m sorry Nick M, but I think you’re wrong. I think you’ll find that policy for managing the end of occupation was carefully worded by the Government and exactly enacted by the Army. You certainly may have believed that all sorts of implicit commitments had been made in various statements made by ministers, but I feel they were careful in that the actual explicit end-of-occupation condition was that local forces were sufficiently numerous and trained such that they could take over the role of civil security. I am not arguing that this was right or wrong, just that it was the policy and it has been carried out on that basis. It doesn’t matter, in the sense of the original point I made, what fanatics do and don’t do. We made a commitment with an explicit end-condition, we did what we said we’d do. In my view, it is not up to the British Army to provide never-ending civil policing in Basra. I appreciate that you differ in your view.

  • Pa: good points, except for this:

    Fascinating. Everyone knows that the task of maintaining law and order should not be granted to the state or military, but to local armed militias.

    Who is this ‘everyone’?

  • Nick M

    spence,
    Please re-read what I said. I suggested, essentially, that at the start of the occupation we laid down the law in no uncertain terms. essentially that we did a spring clean and then allowed the Iraqis to deal with the weekly garbage after that.

    I at no point suggested hanging around ad infinitum. If you think that the UK area of occupation turning into a fiefdom of Iranian backed sh’ite fundamentalists was anything like our originally planned outcome then I think you’re sadly mistaken.

    That, absolutely, was not the plan.

    Or to put it another way. Do you honestly think gifting the Shat-al-Arab and a load of oil to the Ayatollahs was a masterstroke of strategy? You’re saying that’s what they wanted?

  • Pa Annoyed

    Alisa,

    That was sarcasm, I’m afraid. ;-)

    Nick M,

    I’m not convinced that Basra is now a fiefdom of Iranian-backed fundamentalists. I would agree that they’re trying to make it one, but they haven’t won yet.

    I looked it up. Basra has a population of 2.6 million, of which presumably about 1.3 million are women. So the fundamentalists are killing… ummm… a hundredth of one percent? That is quite bad, about 5% of the background mortality in Iraq, but it’s probably not that far off Britain. Latest police stats are that we have 17,000 victims of honour-related violence and a dozen honour killings in the UK every year, and the Muslim population in Britain is smaller than Basra’s.

    Now, I know there are many who consider us already a fiefdom of Saudi-backed Mullahs, but I don’t consider the situation irretrievable, should we wish to do something about it.

  • spence

    I’m sorry Nick M, but I think that it is you who is misinterpreting the policy, not I. In any event, my point was about the final sentence of the original post.

    But to address your point, I think that if you feel that the “original plan” was in any way about the subject you clearly feel strongly about then you are very wrong, we did not lay out the things you state, we were not the social broom sweeping all bad things away, nor were we social workers or policemen. I seriously doubt that any of the points you are making ever made into any policy discussion re: the end-condition for a Basra pull-out. The British Army presence was never about the things you seem to think it was. I’m sorry Nick M, but this was all about the conditions that suited British interests at any given time consistent with the policy set down in Whitehall. It was not at any time greatly affected by the levels of violence that the Iraqis direct at each other, the concerns you raise were never in the “plan” at all. I’m sorry if that seems heartless, but as I say, I doubt that there was much the British Army could do about the things you’re concerned about even if it had ever wanted to or had a mandate to.

  • Nick M

    Pa,
    3000 people out of 300,000,000 is one thousandth of one percent. Now look at the knock on effect that 9/11 has had on US society. This is not a question answered primarily with numbers. The point is not the number killed, it is the number intimidated and that has at least as much to do with the means of death as the gross likelihood.

  • Pa Annoyed

    Nick,

    Agreed. The political effect is significant. But is the effect going to be that the Iraqis surrender to the Mullahs? Or that they become ever more determined to resist?

    CNN spin things to fit their own message – that Iraq’s a disaster. Equally, the BBC spins things to fit their own – that honour crimes in the UK are nothing to worry about. I don’t think either is the case. It’s a serious problem, and one we should offer the Iraqis every assistance they need in solving, but I don’t know that doing everything for them is good now that they’re nearly capable, and I don’t think that saying they’ve already lost to the Mullahs, or are inevitably going to lose, is quite the fighting spirit we need. (If you know what I mean.)

    What we ought to be doing is praising the bravery of those women who do go out in un-Islamic dress, at the risk of their lives (albeit a smaller risk than portrayed), for the sake of their freedom. We should be talking about those Iraqis standing up for women’s rights, taking steps to offer them protection, who are trying to drive out the fundamentalists. The Iraqi police may not be very competent yet, but they work at risk of their lives and their families. We should certainly talk about what the fundamentalists are doing, but only to expose their evil, not to say they’re winning or that we’re surrendering to them if we’re not.

    We’re winning, whatever CNN might want you to think. Islamist abuse of women in Basra is a serious problem, like roadside bombs in Anbar were. I don’t want to minimise it. I don’t think the answer is easy or obvious, (or anything as simple as giving them all guns). But I do think the Iraqis can and will beat it.

    Whether we’ll win our own similar fight against ‘honour’ violence in Britain, on the other hand, is a rather different matter. We certainly can win, but I don’t think we take it seriously enough yet.

  • Pa, I sure got the irony, the question was who it was directed at.

  • Pa Annoyed

    Alisa,

    It wasn’t intentionally directed at anyone as such, but at the abstract political belief. I try to argue with people’s opinions, not with the people themselves. That at least is my intention – if I stepped over the line and gave the impression otherwise in this case, I apologise. But you could say, it was directed at anyone who holds the general belief that arming the population would solve all ills, and particularly anyone who thinks it is obvious that this is so. As I’ve expounded on a great length before, the real issue is whether or not we live in a society where most people wouldn’t hurt us even if they could, and that guns do not make that either more or less likely, they simply raise the stakes. Guns don’t kill people – people kill people.

  • Nick M

    Pa,
    You have, as usual, provided much food for thought. I would though ask you to consider that the situation is different in the (erstwhile) British sector of Iraq from the situation in the US sector.

    I suspect (amazingly, compared to a couple of years ago) that stuff is getting much better in the US sector. I’m really not sure this is the case in the UK sector. I am ashamed as a Brit to say this, but I feel we’ve lost it.

    It goes without saying that I do not in any way blame our military for that.

    So, how do you suggest we fight “honour” violence in the UK (or the US come to that)? I have my ideas, which I’ve posted here previously. I think it was an 11-point plan or something but I’m not sure even that would work.

    I worry about Robert’s point above. I’ve seen enough Middle-Eastern women on the telly championing the hijab etc and specifically asking for less freedom. They all seem to look like Terry Jones in Life of Brian (“He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy”). I do wonder.

    Can you imagine a world where the Islamic states were just like traveling to Europe? Diferent climate, different food (I really like Middle Eastern food), cultural intricacies (but nothing to get stoned about) and… How fun would that be!

    It could happen. Then there would be no need for the nutters to feel emasculated by the West’s comparative wealth because they could have it too. If Catholic Spain and Italy can allow topless bathing on all public beaches then why shouldn’t my wife be able to wear a bikini in Saudi whilst I have a beer?

    I can hop on a plane to the Canary Islands and turn up feeling totally safe. Why can’t I feel the same for the similar length flight to Damascus?

    Why can’t they just go all CofE about religion like what sensible people do? Hell, I work for a religious organization and they are also my landlords but… they don’t care enough about my immortal soul to whip me. Instead we rub along fine. I’m essentially a live-in caretaker and I look after the building and the grounds because they’re really nice and it’s my job. I have, in many areas, diametrically opposed beliefs to them but the situation works fine. Why does such a circumstance so rarely manifest itself in the ME?

    If Islamic civilization is so strong and has such a great record of progress why don’t they seek to build and not to destroy?

    Or, in short, why can’t they be more like Missourians?

    PS. I know they’re building great things in the UAE but…

  • Ian B

    Why can’t they just go all CofE about religion like what sensible people do?

    Well besides the fact that the CofE is a nest of fifth columnist progressives hehe, the reason that Islam is in a constant state of beardy madness is it’s never had to be anything else. Western societies went through a long, painful, violent process negotiating the boundaries of religion vs. state. Additionally christianity has a different history; it’s not a personality cult (islam is, Mohammed was his day’s Elron Hubbard) and christianity was never an empire. It was immensely powerful for a millennium, but there was always a concept of church and state with different responsibilities. Amongst other things that provided a situation where the relationship between the two could be renegotiated over time. In Islam there isn’t any church and state so nothing to be negotiated.

    Even so, when the Otttoman Empire fell, Islam had its chance to join the modern world. It nearly did. There was for a time considerable debate in the muslim world about whether to modernise, and join the west. Turkey did as best it could (though it’ll be back in the dar-al-Islam proper before too long, sad to say. Nice try anyway, Kemal). What we see now is a tremendously successful “traditionalist” backlash against that. In some ways it’s similar to the situation with Judea 2000 years ago; Jews were modernising, adapting the cosmolopitan ways of the Roman Empire and all sorts of Greek Manners. A fierce conservative backlash against that arose and attempted to resist Romanisation (i.e. modernisation) with terrorism (the sicarii, for intance) and revolt, leading to immense bloodshed and the total destruction of Judea; but then the Romans weren’t ones to mither about human rights back then. They just ploughed Jerusalem under.

    Mind you, the Jews won. Descendents of their religion took over the known world; and where are the Romans now?

    How did they win? The diaspora. Now, looking at modern Europe…

  • Ian, re Jews and Romans: but it was the occupation! :-)

    Pa: sorry, I am afraid I led you to read too much into a simple question.

    Everyone knows that the task of maintaining law and order should not be granted to the state or military, but to local armed militias.

    I simply don’t know anyone who has seriously suggested this. I know some here see it as a possibility (I think Mid is one), but it goes without saying that this would only work in a strong civil society, with deeply ingrained respect for the rule of law that protects life and property. It is obvious to anyone that Iraq is not such a society – it simply cannot be, having been a dictatorship for several decades, and having not had a history of such civil society prior to that.

  • CountingCats

    “civilised” behaviour is not the default.

    Has the annoying old bugger supplied a QOTD here?

  • CountingCats

    and christianity was never an empire. It was immensely powerful for a millennium, but there was always a concept of church and state with different responsibilities.

    Christianity was an empire. Even after the fall of Rome and the end of the empire in the west it was identified with the Roman Empire and the Emperor held a quasi religious position. The expression was – “One God, One Pope, One Emperor”.

    This is why the claim of Charlemagne to have re established the Empire, as the Holy Roman Empire sent such a shock throughout the Christian world – there was already an emperor in Constantinople.

    Hell, Charlie the Great even had himself crowned as Imperator Augustus. TWO Emperors!!! Shock!! Horror!!

    BLASPHEMY!!!!!!!!

    At least in some eyes anyway, even if not Charlie’s or the Pope’s. Dunno what the Emperor thought.

    Jews were modernising, adapting the cosmolopitan ways of the Roman Empire and all sorts of Greek Manners.

    Hmmm, they had been Hellenising since Alexander, and look at them four hundred and fifty years later under Hadrian, it just didn’t take. I would argue that the Romans were a complete side issue.

    How did they win? The diaspora. Now, looking at modern Europe…

    And the modern Middle East. At this distance in time Islam is no less a child of Judaism than is Christianity, although I would argue that Christianity took the best of Judaism, and Islam took the worst.

    Ian, commentary on this comment of yours could take up a whole stream by itself. Would be fascinating.

  • Pa Annoyed

    NickM,

    Appreciated. Agree that the US sector is well ahead of Basra, just as the Kurdish areas advanced well ahead of Baghdad and Anbar. I’m not bothered by people saying there are serious problems in Basra, because there obviously are; just mildly irritated by claims that we’ve already ‘lost’ or have failed. It’s too soon to know.

    What would I do to deal with honour crimes? Lots of things, but making it illegal would be a bloody good start.

    Regarding hijabbed women on TV – I’m certain there are some who genuinely do it out of piety, but there are a fair number who say it because it is the only socially acceptable thing to say, or worse, because they’ll face trouble back home if they don’t. The most famous case of a girl demanding to be veiled being Shabina Begum whose brother just so happened to be an activist in Hizb ut Tahrir. There are enough veiled women who will, in private, say they don’t want it but have little choice that I think it’s dangerous to jump to conclusions about those who publicly say they do.

    Alisa,

    I was, perhaps, continuing to argue against an old position that people have now moved on from. They do say that generals always end up fighting the last war. I’m in full agreement with you about it only working in a strong civil society.

  • Midwesterner

    the task of maintaining law and order should not be granted to the state or military, but to local armed militias.

    I know some here see it as a possibility (I think Mid is one),

    A problem here is that “law and order” is precisely what these “local armed militias” are maintaining. We are trying to change their definition of ‘law and order’. The militias are trying to preserve the status quo. What this means is we are not facing a problem of ‘law and order’, but a war. These militias are our enemies and should be treated as such.

    Citizen militias are very good at protecting their members (Islamists in this case) and their laws, be it from invading armies, marauding bandits or civil insurrection. If militias spontaneously form to defend the type of government we are trying to install (IIRC, they are to some degree in other places) then that is when we know that the changes we have made have ‘taken’.

    The problem is not the militias, it is that they are on the other side of a war. Sunfish at February 10, 2008 11:06 AM nailed it for me.