Hobbes in Iraq

Civil war? Try “war of all against all.”

The scariest aspect of the fighting in Amarah is that the violence is not between Shi’a and Sunni, but between two Shi’a factions, each of which has a parliamentary party with a strong voice in the governing coalition and a private army, and each of which has been able to penetrate the Iraqi security forces.

“Civil war” isn’t really the right label any more; a civil war is usually a struggle between two groups for control of a country. Iraq is now moving toward a complete breakdown of civil order: not civil war merely, but a Hobbesian “war of all against all.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

4 thoughts on “Hobbes in Iraq”

  1. Funny how privatizing everything, eliminating most social services and all safety nets, and setting up a stock exchange didn't lead immediately to an Ayn Randian utopia.

  2. They were a tribal culture thousands of years before 'sectarian' was a word. It seems the underlying cultural structure is still in play.

  3. " 'Civil war' isn't really the right label any more…"
    Perhaps, though note there were many parties in the Lebanese "civil war".

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