Wednesday, February 22, 2006

[politics] What else is there to say

but what Steve Gilliard said this morning - 'holy shit' is right... Sectarian tension boils over in Iraq after blast
The [Iraqi] Interior Ministry said four men, one wearing a military uniform and three clad in black, entered the [Ali al-Hadi] mosque and detonated two bombs, one of which collapsed the dome into a crumbly mess and damaged part of the shrine’s northern wall. [...] An aerial photograph released by the U.S. military showed the 66-foot wide dome reduced to a shell of brown masonry and twisted iron, with nearby buildings also wrecked.
One of the more interesting (as the value of 'interesting' approaches 'really fucking scary') pieces of the article is this:
Tradition says the Askariya shrine, which draws Shiite pilgrims from throughout the Islamic world, is near the place where the last of the 12 Shiite imams, Mohammed al-Mahdi, disappeared. Al-Mahdi, known as the “hidden imam,” was the son and grandson of the two imams buried in the Askariya shrine. Shiites believe he is still alive and will return to restore justice to humanity. An attack at such an important religious shrine would constitute a grave assault on Shiite Islam at a time of rising sectarian tensions in Iraq.
Go ahead and Google 'Mahdi'; better yet, Google 'Mahdi Khartoum Gordon', and let me know what you find, m'kay? Back? See any relevant parallels? I thought you might. [Update, 25 Feb 06 4:40PM PST: Unbeknownst to me, Professor Juan Cole was having similar thoughts:
The Twelfh Imam or Mahdi is believed by Shiites to have disappeared into a supernatural realm (just as Christians believe in the ascension of Christ) from which he will someday return. Some Shiites think his second coming is imminent. Muqtada all-Sadr and his followers are among them. They are livid about this attack on the shrine of the Mahdi's father. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also a firm believer in the imminent coming of the Mahdi. I worry that Iranian anger will boil over as a result of this bombing of a Shiite millenarian symbol.
An Iranian-backed Mahdist insurrection could really screw the pooch for us in Iraq. Really, really screw the pooch.]

6 Comments:

Blogger Kristina said...

I feel like crawling under my bed and covering my eyes til it's all over. Not that it will ever be over.

2/23/2006 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Dunbar said...

Gen. Chas. Gordon'? Seige of Khaortaum?

I see a simularity but .. not much of one.

Or the control of Egypt by Britain to control Suez? Maybe something there if you equate petrol with the Suez and lifeblood of the Empire and so on.

There is a diff - you could not build another Suez for love or money or Queen Vickie's crown jewels. We don't need petrol, just the high energy civ it allows. We know _how_ to get along without foreign petrol it just hasn't become painful enough to do so.

Now look what you made me do - I started calling 'oil' 'petrol' and all that eh wot?

2/23/2006 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger protected static said...

I wasn't thinking explicitly about maintaining control over Suez, but yeah - that's in the ballpark. And much like the original Great Game, I get the impression that a lot of what we're doing in the Gulf right now is ultimately only incidental to Middle Eastern/Persian Gulf politics.

Following the Soviet Union's collapse, I thought Fukayama's 'End of History' was nonsense. I predicted then that the world would return to a variation on the Concert of Europe scheme that dominated world affairs from 1815-1914, and I haven't seen anything so far to really disabuse me of that notion. This time 'round, we're taking on the role of Britain; the rest of the cast plays out as follows: the EU (and Russia combined) are playing Russia's role, India plays Japan, and China plays the role of France. Maybe the EU can play Russia and Russia can play Germany - that's still a little murky.

Every analogy has its weaknesses, but I don't think this one pushes things too much... I forsee several decades of jockeying for power, multilateral wars-by-proxy, quasi-colonial adventures and maneuvers to make the Flashman's head spin, culminating in a catastrophic clash that, in retrospect, will seem almost ludicrously avoidable.

So keep an eye out for any nationalists buying pistols in Sarajevo, okay? ;-)

2/23/2006 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Dunbar said...

Time to leave. Oh wait we knew that already ..

The moon isn't far enough in your scenario. It's too handy to lob things from. Mars might be okay. Maybe someone can pull a Dan'l Boone and blaze a Cumbeland Trail to the Oort Cloud.

Pull right out of the 21st century with our early 20th century values intact. Devil take the hindmost - we're heading to Pluto.

2/24/2006 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger protected static said...

"The moon isn't far enough in your scenario. It's too handy to lob things from. Mars might be okay. Maybe someone can pull a Dan'l Boone and blaze a Cumbeland Trail to the Oort Cloud."

I dunno - as long as you're the one doing the lobbing, both Luna and Mars have some strengths: clear fields of fire covering all approaches, and you've got that great, big gravity well just waiting, nay, begging to pull things into itself. Pluto - too cold.

What would the equivilant be for salt licks in the Oort Cloud?

But no - it isn't a rosy geopolitical scenario...

2/24/2006 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Dunbar said...

both Luna and Mars have some strengths: clear fields of fire covering all approaches, and you've got that great, big gravity well just waiting, nay, begging to pull things into itself.

I'm really not hip on living on a target, no matter how well defended. It only takes one lucky shot to ruin your entire day.

2/24/2006 10:25:00 PM  

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