Glenn Reynolds linked to John Wixted’s Back Talk blog, where there is good work being published. Says the writer about himself:
I am a professor at a major research university, a registered Democrat, a liberal by some measures, but a radical conservative relative to the large majority of my colleagues.
Wixted is doing some careful statistics on Baghdad and Iraq-wide violence trends, and documenting the forgotten true-history of al Qaeda in Iraq [forgotten by the main stream media, if they ever bothered to understand it in the first place].
I’ve been surprised lately by the incredulous response that I’ve received from several people concerning the role played by al Qaeda in Iraq’s so-called “civil war.” If you are incredulous about that, then I assume you simply do not know the basics, so it’s time for a refresher course.
What’s happening in Iraq is not a civil war. To appreciate why, consider an analogy. Imagine that Mexican drug lords decided that law enforcement on the U.S. side of the border had too much time on its hands to interdict illicit drug trade. Further imagine that, to deal with this problem, the drug lords decided to incite a race war between Hispanics and blacks living in Southern California and Texas. If they could engineer such a war, U.S. law enforcement would have its hands full, and the drug trade could proceed unfettered.
To incite the race war, the Mexican drug lords might start bombing black Baptist churches and assassinating prominent members of the black community, paying Mexican gang members in the U.S. to do the dirty deeds. At first, blacks might not respond, but, eventually, with relentless provocation of this nature, black gangs might start attacking Mexicans living in the US.
If that happened, would it seem like a civil war to you? What would you take to be the root cause of the conflict? Long-standing ethnic rivalries, or the malicious activities of the Mexican drug lords? The latter, obviously.
In Iraq, al Qaeda plays the role of the Mexican drug lords. No one anticipated that they would hatch their nefarious but remarkably effective plan to deliberately incite sectarian conflict between Shiites and Sunnis. Al Qaeda chose this path because the civil war that many thought would happen was not happening on its own (except at a low level), and this was bad news for al Qaeda. It meant that the long-term prospects for a democratic Iraq were looking far too favorable, and that meant that al Qaeda’s efforts in Iraq were ultimately doomed to failure. Something had to be done about that, and something was done.
Definitely, read the whole thing. It’s a useful archive-for-reference piece.