Blogs > Cliopatria > Death of Civil Society in Iraq

Feb 7, 2004 9:49 am

Death of Civil Society in Iraq

As if living under a totalitarian one-state system for decades wasn't bad enough. As if living under the reign of a man who used violence and tribalism to climb to the top of that system wasn't bad enough. Being on the recieving end of two US-led wars and over a decade of sanctions was pretty bad.

Now, someone is trying to wipe out a generation's worth of intellectual capital, trying to keep educated and professional Iraqis from serving their communities now or in the future. Someone is intimidating and assassinating doctors, lawyers, scholars, human rights and pro-democracy activists and engineers by the hundreds, possibly thousands.

Someone, and we really don't know who, is attempting to do a little social engineering, like the sort that Stalin or Pol Pot carried out, but right under our noses. Someone who doesn't want Iraq to develop a humane community or moderate polity, someone who doesn't want Iraqis to enjoy the benefits of 20th century science, medicine, law (I know it's the 21st century now, but my goals are modest), someone who craves long-term chaos instead of a reasonable and long-delayed peace, is killing important and useful members of society by the hundreds. And we are just now noticing, and we're not really planning to do much of anything about it.

If genocide is the slaughter of an entire people, what do you call it when a society is deliberately undermined? What do you call it when a"ruling authority" permits the violent and deliberate deterioriation of social capital, not to mention the terror and deaths of good and useful people? Truly, there are evil people in the world. And we've apparently given them a really good laboratory to test their theories and hone their methods.

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Jonathan Dresner - 2/9/2004

Sorry, aside from the NYTimes article, and a strong, frightened sense of developmental history running backwards, I can't offer too much more.

Oscar Chamberlain - 2/7/2004

I've not seen this stated in such a blanket way. Can you help direct me to sources, both for my self and for others, that pull this information together?

Ophelia Benson - 2/7/2004

I suppose one thing you can call it is a 'cultural revolution'. 'Killing fields' is also a name that's been used. But 'a little social engineering' is good too. Anyway it's a nightmare. Great, just what Iraq needs: kill off the political scientists and human rights activists. Peachy.

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