Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Matthew Yglesias is Right

I think Matthew Yglesias has this right:
"If I were a Sunni Arab Iraqi, and an al-Qaeda dude stopped by my house I would greet him warmly, offer a cup of coffee and my thanks, agree to help him out in any way he asked, etc. The fact that I might be, by conviction, an atheist and a believer in social democracy wouldn't change this at all. Why wouldn't I support al-Qaeda? Because they're the bad guys? Don't be naive -- they're the guys with guns trying to kill the other guys with guns who are trying to kill me. And if pretending to be a devout Sunni Muslim is the price I need to pay for protection, then why not.

"Much the same could be said of Shiite Arabs' attitudes toward Muqtada al-Sadr. Shadi Hamid's complaints about "the utter incompetence of Nouri al-Maliki government and its continued willingness to turn a blind eye to the increasingly brutal, roving death squads of its Sadrist coalition partners" might as well come from Mars. Why wouldn't you support Sadr? He has a fairly effective armed force at his disposal that's willing to protect Shiites who show their loyalty. Wouldn't you want to work with such a force?"

People tend to forget broad social divisions can be caused by the very conditions of conflict that, on the surface, appear as their result.

(Crossposted to American Footprints.)


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