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A War of All Against All in Iraq

9.21.2005

Watching Channel 4 News at the moment, just a second ago an analyst on the current situation on Iraq suggested that the current role of the Occupying forces was to prevent extreme violence or a "state of war", as he termed it.
It is interesting to see the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes brought into current accounts of violence exploding in Southern Iraq. As some or most may be familiar with, Hobbes saw all unregulated relations between man in his natural state as a state of war, a war of all against all, where constant desire and competition for scarce good forced all inidividual actors into war with one another. The chaotic depiction of human nature by Hobbes has been contested of course.
The reason all this is so intersting to me, anorak that I am, is that the only solution Hobbes felt he could advocate, such being the natural state of man to be at war, was the overwhelming centralisation of physical force in a sole sovereign. The social contract was seen as binding all men together in service to the sovereign, in return for guaranteed individual security from a state of war.
Of course this is all intersting because that means that Iraq requires (if it is in a State of War or close to it) a Hard-Man sovereign, ruling through fear of his/her unbridled power which is exercised against all those who dont succumb to their will. For those who acquiesce there is a life of peace and non-interference, those who rise up or resist are to be swiftly and violently expunged.
If memory serves me correctly, this is precisely the regime that existed before the US/UK coalition went to war.
RR

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