Irak/Palestine: Même la Suisse a eu sa guerre civile! (Even Switzerland had a civil war!)

Geltwill, 1847Les Israéliens ont eu leur propre guerre civile en 1948, bien qu’elle n’ait duré que dix minutes. L’artillerie du premier ministre de l’époque David Ben-Gourion a coulé le transporteur d’armes Altalena avec le futur premier ministre Menachem Begin à son bord. L’Altalena appartenait au groupe d’opposition Irgun, qui a alors placé ses forces armées sous le commandement de Ben Gourion. Spengler
La séparation physique est donc la seule manière de limiter le carnage. Ce processus a déjà commencé dans une certaine mesure parce que la violence chasse les membres d’une section ou de l’autre des nombreux villages, villes et quartiers de la ville jusqu’ici mélangés. C’est une manière douloureuse et très coûteuse d’interrompre le cycle des attaques et des représailles, mais c’est ainsi que la guerre civile réalise son but d’apporter par la suite la paix. C’est l’erreur que les États-Unis et ses alliés font maintenant en Irak en interférant dans la guerre civile. Ils devraient désengager leurs troupes des secteurs peuplés autant que possible et abandonner les points de contrôle et les patrouilles intrusives qui ne contiennent pas la violence de toute façon comme l’effort futile de développer des forces militaires et de police qui n’ont de national que le nom. Un certain contingent de forces américaines et alliées seront toujours nécessaires dans des bases éloignées du désert pour sauvegarder l’Irak d’invasions étrangères comme la zone verte de Bagdad. Mais pour le reste, la plus stricte non-intervention devrait être la règle. Le plus vite les minorités kurde, Sunnite, chiite, turkmène et autres pourront définir leur propres frontières naturelles et stables dans lesquelles elles se sentent en sécurité, le plus vite la violence se terminera. Edward N. Luttwak

Comme avec les scandales, le plus intéressant avec les maitres de la provoc …

Tels que l’ancien faucon reaganien Edward Luttwak (célèbre pour ses critiques enflammées de la bureaucratisation de la guerre) ou l’éditorialiste de l’Asia Times Online (le célèbre Asia Times exilé après la rétrocession en 97 de Hong Kong à la Chine) qui se cache derrière le nom de plume Spengler …

C’est comme d’habitude ce qu’ils font découvrir sur ce qui est considéré comme le fonctionnement normal.

D’où l’intérêt, à l’heure où tout le monde y va de son couplet sur le « bourbier » et l’ « échec » irakiens, de leurs récents commentaires sur les guerres civiles qui déchirent actuellement le Moyen-Orient, et notamment celles de l’Irak et de la Palestine.

Pour l’un comme pour l’autre, la guerre civile de plus ou moins grande intensité qui déchire ces deux régions n’est non seulement pas la faute des Américains ou des Israéliens, mais elle est probablement, comme elle l’a été pour tant d’autres nations aujourd’hui respectables (l’Angleterre, les Etats-Unis et même, 101 ans avant Israël, la Suisse elle-même – protestants contre catholiques, 1 mois, 100 morts)… inévitable.

D’où les risques, tant pour les intervenants que les protagonistes de la guerre civile, qu’implique toute intervention extérieure …

Will civil war bring lasting peace to Iraq?
History shows civil wars must be fought without foreign interference before stability prevails.
By Edward N. Luttwak
EDWARD N. LUTTWAK is a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

June 2, 2006

CIVIL WARS can be especially atrocious as neighbors kill each other at close range, but they also have a purpose. They can bring lasting peace by destroying the will to fight and by removing the motives and opportunities for further violence.

England’s civil war in the mid-17th century ensured the subsequent centuries of political stability under Parliament and a limited monarchy. But first there had to be a war with pitched battles and killing, including the decapitation of King Charles I, who had claimed absolute power by divine right.

The United States had its civil war two centuries later, which established the rule that states cannot leave the union — and abolished slavery in the process. The destruction was vast and the casualties immense as compared with all subsequent American wars, given the size of the population. But without the decisive victory of the Union, two separate and quarrelsome republics might still endure, periodically at war with each other.

Even Switzerland had a civil war — in 1847 — out of which came the limited but sturdy unity of its confederation. Close proximity, overlapping languages and centuries of common history were not enough to resolve differences between the cantons. They had to fight briefly, with 86 killed, to strike a balance of strength between them.

And so it must be with Iraq, the most haphazard of states, hurriedly created by the British after World War I with scant regard for its rival nationalities and sects. The sectarian hatred — erupting during the Saddam Hussein era and at full boil since his ouster — is now inflicting a heavy toll in casualties.

Attempts by U.S. and British forces to stop the killings are feeble; it would take many times as many troops as remain in Iraq to make any difference. Nor can the fundamental factors that are causing the violence be reversed at this point, certainly not by fielding more Iraqi army and police units.

Sure, it would be nice to think that all the parties could just sit down and partition the country peaceably. But the Shiites can’t even agree among themselves, so what hope is there of them talking to the Sunnis? There is no hatred as strong as theological hatred. So it is time for outsiders to step aside and let the Iraqis fight it out among themselves, ending with each controlling its own region.

Of the conflicts, the Kurdish-Arab one is the least volatile. Decades of bloody fighting over Arab rule appear to be ending, and there’s no longer any question that the Kurds will separate. The only question is whether they’ll remain part of a loose Iraqi confederation or become an independent state.

As to the Shiites and Sunnis, however, there’s no end in sight. The Shiite majority among the Arabs of Iraq had been ruled by Sunnis for centuries. But Hussein’s vigorous attempt to modernize Iraq in a secular direction infuriated Shiite prelates. That in turn triggered brutal repression by the regime, which most Shiites inevitably viewed as yet another bout of Sunni oppression. The spread of Salafist fundamentalism among the Sunnis mandates violence against the Shiites.

And, while today’s theocratic Iran is not necessarily viewed as a model, it demonstrates to Iraq’s Shiites that they need not always be ruled by Sunnis. That in turn provokes the ire of the many Sunni Arabs who firmly believe that Iraq belongs to them regardless of their numbers.

And so the massacres continue on both sides.

Physical separation is therefore the only way to limit the carnage. That process has begun, to some extent, because the violence is driving out the members of one sect or the other from the many mixed villages, towns and city districts. This is a painful and very costly way of interrupting the cycle of attacks and reprisals, but that is how civil war achieves its purpose of eventually bringing peace.

Back in the 17th century, if the kings of continental Europe could have prevented England’s civil war, it would have been at the price of perpetuating strife by blocking progress toward stable parliamentary government.

If the British and other European great powers had sent expeditionary armies to stop the enormous casualties and vast destruction of the American civil war, they could have prevented the eventual emergence of a peacefully united republic, perpetuating North-South hostility.

That is the mistake that the U.S. and its allies are now making by interfering with Iraq’s civil war. They should disengage their troops from populated areas as much as possible, give up the intrusive checkpoints and patrols that are failing to contain the violence anyway and abandon the futile effort to build up military and police forces that are national only in name.

Some U.S. and allied forces still will be needed in remote desert bases to safeguard Iraq from foreign invasion, with some left to hold the Baghdad Green Zone. But for the rest, strict noninterference should be the rule. The sooner the Kurds, Sunni, Shiites, Turkmen and smaller minorities can define their own natural and stable boundaries within which they feel safe, the sooner the violence will come to an end.

Iraq’s civil war is no different from the British, Swiss or American internal wars. It too should be allowed to bring peace.

Voir aussi:

Middle East
Civil war: A do-it-yourself guide

Spengler

Asia Times

Aug 29, 2003

Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority’s scapegoat-in-chief, so deeply abhors the prospect of a Palestinian civil war that he cannot bring himself to attack Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Chin up, Mr Abbas: civil war is the sine qua non of nationhood. Permit me to try to sell you on the merits of having a civil war of your very own. Think of a civil war not as a luxury, but as an investment.

It is unpopular these days to draw attention to the merits of violence, particularly the sort that inevitably entails « collateral damage », that is, the slaughter of innocents. Progress supposedly brings us non-violent conflict resolution. Au contraire. The faster the world changes, the more people find themselves left behind, and the more people are left behind, the more diehards are willing to fight to the death.

Real nations, as opposed to romantic visions of nations, have no room for irredentists and other rejectionists. They need the sort of people who show up on time, pay dues to a respectable political party and get along (if grudgingly) with the neighbors. Having a civil war is de rigeur. All the right people do it. It shows that the prospective nation has the grit to sort out its own problems.

The truth, Mr Abbas, is that no one will take you seriously until you have your own civil war. Most of your neighbors have had one, some quite recently. Egypt killed about 2,000 members of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1999-2000. Turkey has had two recent civil wars, counting the war with left-wing extremists of 1975-1980 (2,800 dead) as well as the campaign against the Kurds.

The former Yugoslavia is a poster-child for civil wars. Greece had an especially nasty one in 1947, and Cyprus racked up 5,000 casualties during 1975-1980. Another 4,000 died in the 1989 Romanian uprising against Nicolae Ceaucescu, and 1,000 have died in the past decade of civil war in tiny Moldova.

Let’s not begin to talk of Africa. One even might think of criminal behavior by North African immigrants in France, or African-Americans in the United States, as a kind of civil (more on this below).

Your neighbors the Israelis had their own civil war in 1948, although it lasted only 10 minutes. Then prime minister David Ben-Gurion’s artillery sank the arms ship Altalena with future premier Menachem Begin on board. The Altalena belonged to the opposition Irgun, which responded by placing its armed forces under Ben Gurion’s command. The Israelis then proceeded to win their war of independence, at your expense.

How expensive is a civil war? There are wars for every budget. Potential buyers could think of Mexico’s civil war of 1911-1917 (commonly misnamed the revolution) that claimed a million lives, or America’s of 1861-1865, with more than 600,000. It all depends on how many pests you have. The American civil war hero W T Sherman (as I mentioned on June 12 in More killing, please! ) spoke of 300,000 Southern diehards who had to be killed.

An inexpensive little model that might suit your needs is the Irish civil war of 1922-23. The victorious Free Staters finished the job with just 3,000 deaths (barely 1,000 Irishman had died in the rebellion against England of 1916-1922). The Irish UN types you run into don’t like to talk about it, but the winning side cut a deal with the former colonial power (Britain) to wipe out the diehards.

The Free State commander Michael Collins could have shown you a few tricks. After Ireland’s parliament approved Britain’s offer of sovereignty (except in foreign policy) for all but the six counties of Northern Ireland, the romantic nationalists of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) rebelled. Collins had fewer military forces at his disposal, but he quickly assembled a regular army. He accepted British offers of artillery pieces and ammunition, as well as intelligence. The artillery made short work of formal IRA resistance. Collins’ men hunted down and liquidated their former comrades-in-arms, using summary executions of prisoners, torture, and reprisals against civilians.

Remember that when the next Mary Robinson turns up to commiserate with you. Real statesmen shoot rebel prisoners in the back of the head so that their children may have the luxury of becoming a UN high commissioner for human rights.

How expensive will your civil war be? It’s only a good-faith estimate, but I would guess that 20,000 would do the trick for Palestine, provided that you act quickly. It seems like a lot, but remember that Jordan’s late King Hussein killed more than that number of Palestinians (at least according to your own Palestine Liberation Organization estimates) during « Black September » of 1970. Wait, and the bill could be much bigger.

Remember that it costs much, much more if an outside contractor arranges your civil war. It’s always cheaper to do it yourself. During the Thirty Years’ War of 1618-1648, the German princes let the French Cardinal Richelieu take charge. The bill came to more than half the population of Central Europe. (But of German peasants). Then you can pay with a Czech!

Both parties to the Spanish civil war of 1936-1939 invited in their own contractors. Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin fought it out to the last drop of Spanish blood. In all do-it-yourself projects, it helps if your neighbor has done similar work and can give you some pointers. I am not promising you an overnight repair job, of course, but the point is that the sooner you tackle the problem, the sooner you will be done. If you neglect the problem, though, there’s no way of telling how long the job will last.

If you let your lawn go to seed or let your dog bark all night, your neighbors will become impatient and compel you to take action. The same applies to civil wars. If you don’t do it yourself, the neighbors may do it for you, and end up damaging your property.

It’s no use to say, « They can’t get all of us! » They don’t need to get all of you. Consider that the American criminal justice system has incarcerated or otherwise controlled one out of every three black Americans between the ages of 20 and 30. That is nothing less than the ruin of a generation, but it correlates to a big decline in the rate of commission of violent crimes.

If America is willing to exterminate large numbers of its own discontented population, don’t expect any compunction when it comes to you. In a war of attrition, the side with more resources and more killing capacity always wins. If you make yourself sufficiently obnoxious, the Americans will take the leash of the Israelis and let them sort you out, however long it takes.

In the long run, of course, your martyrdom well might benefit Osama bin Laden, or whoever might be leading the jihad in the future. That’s small comfort to you. Even worse, you might end up with the Richelieu variety of civil war in which mercenaries on both sides draw support from external powers.

Like the German and Spanish examples, these affairs are the costliest of all. If the hired help is working for outside contractors rather than for you, their interest is to prolong the business as long as possible in order to keep themselves employed. They will make quite a mess, and your home will be unlivable until you get rid of them.

Oh, and one last reminder: Michael Collins died in a firefight during the final days of the Irish civil war. Keep your head down.

6 commentaires pour Irak/Palestine: Même la Suisse a eu sa guerre civile! (Even Switzerland had a civil war!)

  1. […] Bull Run/149e: Retour sur la première vraie bataille de la Guerre civile américaine Même la Suisse a eu droit à sa guerre civile. Edward Luttwark […]

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  2. […] Les Israéliens ont eu leur propre guerre civile en 1948, bien qu’elle n’ait duré que dix minutes. L’artillerie du premier ministre de l’époque David Ben-Gourion a coulé le transporteur d’armes Altalena avec le futur premier ministre Menachem Begin à son bord. L’Altalena appartenait au groupe d’opposition Irgun, qui a alors placé ses forces armées sous le commandement de Ben Gourion. Spengler […]

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  3. […] Les Israéliens ont eu leur propre guerre civile en 1948, bien qu’elle n’ait duré que dix minutes. L’artillerie du premier ministre de l’époque David Ben-Gourion a coulé le transporteur d’armes Altalena avec le futur premier ministre Menachem Begin à son bord. L’Altalena appartenait au groupe d’opposition Irgun, qui a alors placé ses forces armées sous le commandement de Ben Gourion. Spengler […]

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  4. […] Les Israéliens ont eu leur propre guerre civile en 1948, bien qu’elle n’ait duré que dix minutes. L’artillerie du premier ministre de l’époque David Ben-Gourion a coulé le transporteur d’armes Altalena avec le futur premier ministre Menachem Begin à son bord. L’Altalena appartenait au groupe d’opposition Irgun, qui a alors placé ses forces armées sous le commandement de Ben Gourion. Spengler […]

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  5. […] Les Israéliens ont eu leur propre guerre civile en 1948, bien qu’elle n’ait duré que dix minutes. L’artillerie du premier ministre de l’époque David Ben-Gourion a coulé le transporteur d’armes Altalena avec le futur premier ministre Menachem Begin à son bord. L’Altalena appartenait au groupe d’opposition Irgun, qui a alors placé ses forces armées sous le commandement de Ben Gourion. Spengler […]

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