2004 October 17 Sunday
Intellectuals And Christians Flee From Iraq

Professors in Iraq are targetted for killing and kidnapping.

Since the war ended 18 months ago, at least 28 university teachers and administrators have been killed, while 13 professors were kidnapped and released on payments of ransom, according to the Association of University Lecturers. Many others have received death threats.

Look at how well neoconservative strategy is working. US intervention in Iraq has catalyzed changes that are helping to modernize Syria. Somehow, though, I do not these are the kinds of changes the neocons envisioned.

Neighboring Syria, for example, is opening a science and technology university this month, with 70 percent of the teaching staff made up of Iraqi exiles.

Female students are also targetted.

BAGHDAD — Islamist extremists are targeting the city's universities by threatening and even attacking female students who wear Western-style fashions, setting off bombs on campuses and demanding that classes be segregated by sex.

At least 1,000 of an estimated 3,000 women who want to postpone their studies for fear of violence will be granted leaves of absence, a student affairs official here said.

The neocons do not appear to be as good at social engineering as the communists were. Look at how well the Soviet system used terror to suppress Islam. By contrast, those naive bumbling social engineers in the Bush Administration who claim their strategy is to spread democracy in the Middle East obviously are being outbid in the terror department. The Islamists do not shrink from using the force necessary to produce the kind of society they desire.

The neocons subscribe to a universalist fantasy about human nature where the bulk of the world's population yearn to become Western liberal democrats. The evidence of reality continues to indicate that the neocons are dangerously wrong.

Christians were much safer under Saddam. Christians are now terrorized by the Islamists.

BAGHDAD — Predawn explosions yesterday ripped through five empty Christian churches in the Iraqi capital, which by nightfall also was the scene of the crashes of two U.S. helicopters, which killed two soldiers and wounded two others.


Thousands of Christians have fled Iraq since the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein. The church bombings, while claiming no casualties, appeared calculated to intimidate the remaining believers, estimated to number about 800,000.

Christians are much safer in Baathist Syria.

Jerry Dykstra from Open Door USA said continued bombings and violence in Iraq have scared believers: “Many Iraqi Christians are not going to church (and) they’re not going out of their homes because of all the violence that is going on.” He also pointed out that many Christians are going to Syria or Jordan so that they can attend a church service without fear.

If the neocons managed to get America to invade Syria for Israel's benefit then the Christians in Syria will have to flee yet again. So will the intellectuals. The Iraqis might be better off fleeing to Jordan.

Lots of Christians are fleeing into exile.

Pascale Isho Warda, a Christian who is the interim government's minister for displacement and migration, estimated as many as 15,000 out of Iraq's nearly 1 million Christians have left the country since August, when four churches in Baghdad and one in Mosul were blown up in a coordinated series of car bombings.

We have made Iraq a safe place for intellectuals, women, and Christians to flee from. All these people can now finally safely live in another country if they can only manage to get out alive.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 October 17 01:20 PM  Mideast Iraq Exodus

Wes Ulm said at October 18, 2004 2:15 AM:

"Female students are also targetted."
"Christians were much safer under Saddam. Christians are now terrorized by the Islamists."
"Christians are much safer in Baathist Syria."

I guess the Iraq war is becoming an object lesson in the law of unintended consequences. Something that's always perplexed me about Saddam Hussein and his regime is that, for all his acknowledged and gratuitous (and well-documented) cruelty, and the authoritarianism of the Baath Party in general, the Baaths were nonetheless able to provide for a society that, relative to much of the rest of the Middle East at least, had a number of aspects that the West always elevates as being commendable. I suspect that has a lot to do with the Baathists' secularism, a critical detail that was swamped out and overlooked in the echo chamber of idiocy that preceded the Iraq invasion, with the media slavishly allowing the public to be duped into facile comparisons of Saddam and the far different radical Islamist (and dangerous) Osama bin Laden.

As you noted, Christians were treated much better in Baathist Iraq than most other Middle Eastern countries (far better than in e.g. Saudi Arabia or other Gulf States), and IIRC Tariq Aziz himself was Christian. I'm not an expert in Iraq's recent history, but I don't recall a single bombing of an Iraqi church in the Baathist reigns of Qassem and Saddam over 3-4 decades. And women in Iraq seem to have been more liberated than just about anywhere else in the region save Turkey: Women made up the lion's share of physician and scientist graduates at Iraq's top universities IIRC, and many held powerful posts in the Baathist apparatus. This is why I utterly detest the chest-thumping, jingoistic propaganda that's used to push a seemingly peace-loving, democractic nation into war: It glosses over these complexities and the subtleties that societies often incorporate, however imperfectly, to hold the structure together. That's why Michael Ledeen's platitudes about "creative destruction" or these facile references occasionally made to "Shiva-like" rebuilding of a destroyed Iraq (people grossly misunderstand the philosophical basis of Shiva in Hinduism-- not even Hindus themselves can agree on him and his actions) were so perilously misleading. Civilizations are unfathomably complex animals with a lot of odd customs and tacit agreements and quietly shared history, and you can't just blast a ruling institution to smithereens and expect to supplant it successfully unless you're pretty much willing to make that the priority of the administration, and allocate tremendous (i.e., bankruptcy-inducing) resources accordingly.

Now, for all the haranguing about Saddam's tyranny (and he undoubtedly was a tyrant), the replacement is in some respects even worse-- Christians and women, who enjoyed some measure of freedom under the Baathists, are now facing a wretched future in the country and emigrating to Syria which is ruled by-- guess who-- Baathists. The problem is that many neocons and other commentators were glimpsing Iraq ahistorically, failing to pose and analyze the question of why Saddam Hussein was in power in the first place. It all goes back to the Sykes-Picot Treaty and the British bungling of Iraq in the 1920s-- indeed, the formation of such a nonsensical country in the first place. Divide-and-conquer blew up in the face of the British then, and thereafter it was only a native leader with an iron fist who could govern the place. That's why it's a baaaad idea to go drawing map lines in totally foreign regions specifically designed to pit the populations against each other-- eventually someone's gonna have to clean up the mess. And now we've just stepped in it. Even many Shiites who lost relatives to the Baathist atrocities are claiming, bizarrely enough, that they'd vote for Saddam if he were to stand as a candidate. Sounds f*%^ed up on our end, but this just shows the rigidity that even many in Iraq's oppressed populace deemed was essential to hold the artifice together. Had the Wilsonian crusaders in this case entered Iraq with a more viable plan and competent native leaders-- and eschewed the not-so-bright idea of letting the cities be looted like 5th century Rome after the Fall of Baghdad-- then maybe something (a "post-Baathist" secular regime?) may have been manageable. At this point, I don't see something like that as a workable prospect.

Invisible Scientist said at October 18, 2004 6:08 AM:

Right now, there is ALREADY some form
democracy in Iraq, in the
sense that the majority is voting to kill the
minority. Saddam Hussein was popular because he
was the social glue that provided protection to
all the minorities in exchange for their loyalty.
The same type of minority protection phenomenon
exists in Syria due to the secular dictatorship
there. In any case, Islam is a form of
democracy, in the
sense that the law does not come from the
government, but a religious text, and the
interpretation of the text is supposed to be
literal, so that even the clerics who deviate
from the literal interpretation of the text
get overthrown by the people whenever there
is evidence of such herecy. The right to govern
really belongs to those who follow the textbook
in the most loyal fashion.

On the other hand, it seems that the 1,000 year
old war between Islam and the Crusaders, is
back again. The wave of decapitations will
probably spread outside Iraq and Saudi Arabia
because it seems that the Al Qaeda feels that
it can defeat West in a guerilla war, and
hence provoking the West is a good tactic for
them. Suckering the USA into invading Iraq
was a net gain for Al Qaeda. If the US attacks
Iran, it will be even more beneficial to
Al Qaeda in terms of uniting the fence-sitting
silent Muslim majority against the West.

Derek Copold said at October 18, 2004 8:41 AM:

15,000? This is a trickle. Get ready for the flood of collaborators and refugees who'll be coming to America when we finally pull the plug on Allawi.

gcochran said at October 18, 2004 9:07 AM:

I've already promised to take a friend to a fine Iraqi-exile restaurant in a couple of years.

Kurt said at October 18, 2004 2:34 PM:

This is just another example that highlights the idiocy of the whole neo-con agenda and their grand dellusions. These idiots actually convenced themselves that they can rebuild Iraqi society in the same manner that we rebuilt Japan and Germany following WWII. I have read all of thier rhetoric and know that this was their intent and dellusion. They cited the success stories of Japan and Germany as though these were the only two times we have attempted nation-building. Wrong-o. Haiti, Philippines, Cuba, most of the Central American countries, as well as Libya are examples of nation-building efforts where we failed miserably. In fact, the Marines were created specifically as an expeditionary force for the purpose of nation-building early in the 19th century ("from the halls of montezuma to the shores of tripoli...").

Stave Sailer, Randall Parker, Jerry Pournelle, and probably a thousand other people have pointed out why the Iraq plan was doomed to failure and why it should never have been attempted in the first place. Add to this the issue of the "non-market" minority population explosion coupled with the retirement of the boomers, and you have one hell of a fine mess on our hands.

I think I will relocate to Asia once again. Singapore is quite attractive...

Invisible Scientist said at October 18, 2004 3:46 PM:

Although Japan and Germany were exceptions to the general rule that it is difficult to impose
a new political system externally, the circumstances after WW II were different from the
situation after the invasion of Iraq. After WW II, both Germany and Japan were almost totally destroyed
both economically and demographically.. The fire-bombing of Dresden was far worse than Hiroshima,
and the Soviet revenge on Germany made the Germans appreciate the Americans. And Japan was
very grateful to the Americans because the Japanese people knew what the Chinese and Russian
soldiers would do to them if the Americans allowed them to occupy Japan.

But in comparison to Germany and Japan, Iraq was not crushed brutally like WW II, very few
casualties were there, and word spread that the Americans are very easy-going by military

But if by accidental judgement, if an emerging new member of the nuclear club countries
detonates a nuke in Europe or in the US, then the
retribution will be so severe that the nation-building will be much easier, since
the country in question will be 90 % wiped out.

Wes Ulm said at October 18, 2004 5:37 PM:

"After WW II, both Germany and Japan were almost totally destroyed
both economically and demographically.. The fire-bombing of Dresden was far worse than Hiroshima,
and the Soviet revenge on Germany made the Germans appreciate the Americans. And Japan was
very grateful to the Americans because the Japanese people knew what the Chinese and Russian
soldiers would do to them if the Americans allowed them to occupy Japan."

The gist of your comment above (comparing post-WWII map to Iraq) is right, though it's not true to say that "Germany and Japan were almost totally destroyed demographically" by WWII-- that's a common misconception. As brutal as WWII was, the demographic effect on those two countries was actually rather minor, at least compared to the devastation that *did* ravage Eastern Europe. Germany lost 3 to 3 1/2 million soldiers, along with an estimated 1-2 million civilians (a large fraction of the Dresden civilian dead were non-German refugees), out of a total population of 78 million, and with the post-WWII Wirtschaftswunder and Marshall Plan, Germany experienced a baby boom just like the United States. Japan lost maybe 2 million (military + civvie) out of a roughly 75 million population. Indeed the demographic trendline of those two countries is pretty similar to neutral nations-- like Switzerland and Sweden-- that sat out the war. The wars were economically devastating for those two countries, true, although even here one must keep in mind that Germany and Japan were *already* economically devastated by the Great Depression which preceded WWII, which hit them harder than, say, France and Britain since they lacked overseas colonies to buffer the shrinkage of capital and monetary declines. Both countries still retained a large enough fraction of their native scientific, industrial, and engineering talent that-- with the help of the Marshall Plan-- they soon became even stronger economically than all the Allies but the US itself. (In contrast the US did a really mean Shylock routine vis-a-vis Britain with the Lend-Lease debt, demanding the repayment of the obligations with interest which also meant-- inevitably-- the dissolution of the then money-losing colonies, where the British administration was devastated anyway by the disaster at Singapore in 1942 and nationalist movements. I've met many Brits who are still bitter about what they felt to be a forced transfer of British WWII aviation and radar technology to the US to pay off the debts, even as the British were stuck with food and gas rationing lines and struggling to rebuild Coventry and other places flattened by Luftwaffe bombing raids after the war.)

Contrast those numbers with Eastern Europe, where Poland e.g. suffered 3 million military and civilian dead from both the German and Russian invasions, and was denied the balm of the Marshall Plan after the war since, after Tehran and Yalta, it was handed over to Stalin (who also made sure to snatch about 1/3 of Poland's territory). Poland's prewar population? 35 million. Yugoslavia had close to 1.8 million dead out of a population of only 15 million. 30 million dead in USSR out of a nearly 200 million population. Even Britain, which was relatively peripheral in Hitler's target scheme (English Channel "moat around the castle," Hitler's primary focus on France, Eastern Europe, and Russia), suffered over 500,000 total dead out of a less than 50 million population. The funny thing about wars is that, the vast majority of the time and contrary to common belief, they don't have much demographic impact, save for a few exceptions like the brutal and often genocidal Mongol invasions in the 1200s or the War of the Triple Alliance in South America in 1865, where Francisco Solano Lopez of Paraguay had the not-so-bright idea of taking on Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay simultaneously-- Paraguay lost nearly 60% of its population. Furthermore, populations in countries overrun by a total war tend to quickly "make good" on the population loss after the war, when demographic replacement becomes imperative-- at least in pre-industrial countries. (This is the still poorly-understood phenomenon in which the M:F sex ratio after a war balloons up way above the peacetime level-- unclear why.)

This is in fact a major reason that China now has a population of 1.4-1.5 billion people. China's pre-WWII population was 450 million, and the country suffered 11 million military and civilian dead at the hands of the Japanese along with a colossal psychological shock that ushered in a major and systematic pro-natalist policy even before Mao seized power, probably well beyond what would have been the case in the absence of the war (along with the ongoing Chinese Civil War, of course). China's pre-war 450 million figure, in turn, was also unusually high as a result of the devastation of the Opium Wars and Taiping Rebellion, which had the same net effect. China had already reached the 100 and 200 million mark earlier than other countries because of the economic prosperity under the early Manchus, but this number was already stabilizing by the 1800s; China's demographic history thereafter is anomalous because it was an otherwise prosperous, relatively developed country-- its economy was the world's largest for centuries, until the 1830s-- yet suffered severe demographic shocks from the British, French, Dutch, Belgian, and American invasions and Sino-Japanese Wars. (Check out Jet Li's "Once Upon a Time in China" for a recap of that tormented period.) Without those jolts, China's population would likely have leveled off at maybe 6-700 million at most, but it's much higher in part because of the wars. Ditto with Vietnam, which also saw a substantial baby boom after the failure of the US effort there and the capture of Saigon in 1974. This is probably another reason why it'll be to Israel's benefit to finally pull up stakes and remove the extreme settlements in the Gaza and West Bank; as long as the Palestinians feel they're under constant siege and mired in chronic poverty, their demographic expansion will outpace that of Israel to the point that an Arab majority will arrive in the year 2015. OTOH if the Palestinians have a state, however despotic, there is at least the possibility of a reduction in the conflict, economic improvement, and a relief of the psychological pressure that spurs such high TFRs.

I should point out as a coda that wars can sometimes have demographic effects which are paradoxical, and WWI furnishes a useful example. In this case, the two most prosperous and politically powerful nations-- France and the UK-- suffered the worst demographic hit. Since they'd already "crested" and passed the demographic transition, they did not make good on their terrible losses in the war (1 million UK dead, 2 million French dead) to nearly the same extent as Germany and Russia, which lost more soldiers but more than replaced the losses, by a wide margin, perhaps in part b/c they were still rapidly-growing, industrializing states with inchoate political systems. The UK was hit especially hard since the best and brightest served disproportionately on the front lines of the Somme and Passchendaele (not to mention Gallipoli) and were slaughtered mercilessly; 60% of many classes at Oxbridge were lost in the war, and this on top of the disastrously high capital expenditures that nearly bankrupted Britain. The losses were made even more galling by the fact that Britain was relatively peripheral in the German General Staff's war schemes, and in fact the Schlieffen Plan assumed no British entry into the war. The necessity of British participation is controversial, but the horrific damage Britain suffered (and the march toward decolonization) is not, and this is one of the reasons that historians such as Niall Ferguson, among many others, have so bitterly questioned whether Britain should have entered WWI in the first place, or whether the country should've just acceded to a negotiated armistice early on.

I should also note that the popular perception of a "Russian revenge" against the German population after WWII is not accurate. There were the inevitable atrocities that always occur following an invasion, but not nearly to the extent that people often assume; in fact, although the Russians in Eastern Germany did participate in some expulsion operations, there was if anything an astonishing lack of revenge attacks and civilian roundups. This was in part b/c the Soviet forces were already so utterly exhausted-- physically and mentally-- and themselves decimated by hunger and disease, that they didn't have much gas remaining in the tank to undertake much ethnic cleansing. Also, Stalin, for all his barbarity, was also a technocrat who was more obsessed with maintaining blind obedience to the Soviet state than singling out any particular ethnic group; he never followed through with his (supposedly sarcastic) threat to Churchill to send German officers above major to a firing squad, possibly b/c he found them useful in training his own utterly decimated army (partly from his own purges). We should also remember that Stalin transferred millions of ethnic Baltic Germans in western Russia to locales farther east on the Eurasian landmass, as he doubted their loyalty in the war-- an action which if anything saved millions of Russo-Germans from the barbarity of the Nazi invasion. They and their descendants are now the "Aussiedler" who are flooding into Germany every year.

I'm not trying to minimize the horrors of the war here, let alone the atrocities of Stalin; the devastation and psychological shock suffered by so many populations in that war were horrid. However, when you actually sit down and analyze the numbers, you'll find that the details in areas like demographics, economics, and postwar political power are often in the opposite direction of what you would have anticipated, with former Axis Powers suffering less than Allies and emerging, ironically, quite stronger. WWII was anomalous and paradoxical in numerous respects.

Invisible Scientist said at October 19, 2004 4:58 AM:

Wes Ulm:

Thanks for the correction.. What I should have said was that after WW II,
Japan and Germany were brought to their knees in such a way that both nations fully
understood that any further resistance after the uncoditional surrender,
would be punished with extreme prejudice. Partitioning Germany into American and Russian
zones also helped since both nations saw that Americans were more generous.
We shall see what will happen after the current war escalates to more ruthless proportions,
since Islam is both a religion and a political system, and defeating them is not as
simple as defeating a nation in a conventional war... In that sense, this guerilla war
is also different from Viet Nam.

But my question sbout what you said above, is this: Previously I was
under the impression that the worst thing that happened to China was the British
invasion and the Opium War... I was NOT aware of how much
more the Chinese civilization suffered because of the other European invasions.
If your statistics about China are correct, the people of China must be harboring a lot more
rancor against the West than we know, and this rancor might surface during the next few decades,
in ways that will be written in history stones in the next century.

Rob said at October 19, 2004 11:27 AM:

Is it really the law of unintended consequences? Or was this the plan the neocons had envisioned from the beginning. The clash of christian and islamic civilizations scenario is the dream of neocons. Israel benefits when christians are duped into believing that christianity and islam are implacably hostile civilizations.

Invisible Scientist said at October 19, 2004 1:34 PM:

In my opinion, this clash between the Islamic and Western civilization, was intentional from
both sides. On one hand, Osama bin Laden promised his people that he will save them from the
domionation of the high-IQ Western civilization in this century (by either destroying or
conquering the Western civilization), which I can understand, since the Islamic civilization is
in danger of being overpowered by the Western thinking in this century, unless they resist.
On the other hand, the neocons you are talking about, think that they can defeat Al Qaeda even
in a guerilla war (because they think they have the technology), and so they were happy to get into
this war.
But when you say that Israel benefits when Christians are duped into believing that Islam is
intrinsically hostile, then are you also insinuating that Israel actively DUPED the Christians
with trickery into believing that Islam is the enemy, or are you just saying that Israel passively
benefiting from this mess? The reason I am taking your statement very seriously, is because
in the West, especially in Europe, there is an elite that wants to use Israel as a bait or payoff
to the Islamic civilization, in the sense that if Israel gets involved in a violent war with the
Islamic world in such a way that Israel is pushed to the corner and is forced to defend itself
by using very violent means, this would be tantamount to forcing Israel to do the "dirty work"
for Europe, in the sense that Europe would then gain another 25 years, while cleaning the mess
after the Middle Eastern war, blaming it on Israel, while Europe gets the benefit of seeing
the Islamic civilization severely crippled as a result of the war... This is one of the dreams of some
of the European or possibly Western elites, who are NOT the friends of Israel, they are out
for themselves. I feel that these elites are the ones who might DUPE Israel into believing that
they are Israel's protectors, while pushing Israel to the foreground in the war against Islam.
Maybe you did not see this side of the story. But think about the cynicism... Cynics were a
Greek cult of philosophers who used to see the world as it is, but not as it should be...Forcing
Israel to hit Iran would be wonderful for Europe, it's a win-win scenario for them, if Israel
successfully destroys the nuclear facilities of Iran, it's great for Europe, since the scape-goat
will do the dirty job for them, and they can then blame Israel. And if Israel fails and gets
defeated, then the European elite would not mind either. What is wrong with the Israeli and Jewish
thinking overall is that the Jews and the Israelis have been DUPED into believing that they are
white Europeans (in the psychological sense.)

Rob said at October 19, 2004 2:22 PM:

Europe has wisely stayed out of the confrontation between the west and islam. I was referring to the neocons who use the airwaves and print media in the US to convince american christians that secularist saddam hussein was part of the jihadist attack on 9/11. The aim of the neocons is to use america's military machine to surround israel with weak arab states.

Invisible Scientist said at October 19, 2004 3:10 PM:

On the contrary, Europe is (or will soon be)
very deeply involved in the confrontation, but Europe conned the USA into
doing the dirty job of fighting their war for them. Europeans wrote the book of colonialism
and imperialism, and Americans have not even learned 1 percent of imperialism
despite all the efforts of the neocons.
Right now, Europe has a fast growing
Muslim minority that is gaining ground over there. The ONLY way Europe can assimilate this
working class minority that is continually imported for cheap labor, is to break the back
of the Islamic civilization by making sure that Islam does not become a superpower that
is militarily superior to Europe, otherwise when the European Muslims become 30 % of France,
Belgium, Holland and Danemark 25 years, then Europe would be vulnerable to conquest if
Middle East becomes an Islamic superpower. Imagine mini-nukes that are given to
suicide bombers all over Europe. And
Islam will become a militarily significant
superpower if all the oil money is administered by Al Qaeda, instead of
being squandered on luxury goods by the Royal Families in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc.
The picture is MUCH bigger than Israel, etc. Add to this equation the competition between
the US and Far Eastern countries that are about to become militarily able to challenge
both EU and the USA, the picture becomes even bigger.

Randy McDonald said at October 23, 2004 7:03 PM:

We should also remember that Stalin transferred millions of ethnic Baltic Germans in western Russia to locales farther east on the Eurasian landmass, as he doubted their loyalty in the war-- an action which if anything saved millions of Russo-Germans from the barbarity of the Nazi invasion. They and their descendants are now the "Aussiedler" who are flooding into Germany every year.

1. They weren't Baltic Germans. In Estonia and Latvia before 1939, ethnic Germans amounted to 2% of Estonia's populatino and 5% of Latvia's, numbering in the tens of thousands. Owing to their association with nasty pre-independence anti-Baltic prejudice, they were declining, both in numbers and in overall importance. They were evacuated to Nazi Germany in 1939 before the annexation.

2. The ~2M ethnic Germans deported by Stalin were actually Volga Germans, descendants of settlers imported by Catherine the Great to the lower Volga. Given how ethnic Germans elsewhere in central and eastern Europe benefited (frequently from the invasion, and the actual mass death suffered by the deportees, it's debatable whether Nazi German occupation might have been a benefit. Certainly it couldn't have been worse.

3. Given how many of the nominally ethnic German immigrants coming to Germany either live securely in their homelands of birth (i.e. Poland and Hungary) or can more accurately be described as Russophones of ethnic German descent (i.e. Russia and Kazakstan), Germany is rewriting its citizenship laws to exclude further potential migrants.

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