Day By Day

Monday, February 28, 2005


BBC Reports:

At least 110 people have been killed in a massive car bomb south of Baghdad, local medical officials say. At least 130 others have been wounded in the blast in Hilla, 100km (60 miles) south of the capital.

The car, reportedly driven by a suicide bomber, exploded near a queue of people applying for government jobs.

Iraqi insurgents are waging a violent campaign against US-backed authorities, targeting anyone associated with the government.

A statement from local police said a suicide car bomb "hit a gathering of people who were applying for work in the security services", the Associated Press news agency reported. "Several people" were arrested in connection with the blast, the statement
added, without elaborating further.

Torn limbs, feet and other body parts littered the street after the blast.
Footage showed pools of blood at the scene, with dozens of people helping to put body parts into blankets. Shoes and tattered clothes were piled up in a corner.
[Emphasis mine].

Read the whole thing here.

What can you say in the face of evil like this? Of course the BBC has a rational explanation -- it's part of "a campaign against US backed authorities." But that's yesterday's explanation. It is by now crystal clear that violence will not drive the US out, nor will it provoke civil war, nor will it measurably impede the formation of an effective Iraqi security force.

This is not, in western terms, a rational program of violence. It is tempting to think that this is simply madness -- evil madness -- a mindless striking out to kill, to maim, to destroy, nothing more. But to me it seems more an act of desperation.

Baathist remnants know that a terrible retribution awaits them and their clans if an effective government ever seeks to bring them to justice, so they are desperately doing anything they can, no matter how horrible, to stave off that inevitability or at least to force the new Iraqi government to stay the hand of justice in order to gain peace. These people have nothing to offer the Iraqi people. They are merely fighting to survive as a tribal entity.

This is the problem to which Martin Kramer alluded in an earlier post. Iraq, indeed most of the Middle East, is still a tribal culture in which people will fight and die and kill for the honor of their family and their tribe. Freedom for them means freedom for their collectivity, not for themselves as individuals. They gain honor and achieve a meaningful death by killing themselves in order to protect their tribe.

People like this need not reflect a majority, or even a large minority, sentiment with the Iraqi population. A small, tribal minority can cause major disruption for years.

This is why there will be no quick and easy resolution to the turmoil afflicting Iraq and the entire region.

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