2006 March 24 Friday
Ethnic Cleansing To Produce 3 States In Iraq?

On the third year anniversary of beginning of America's Iraq misadventure lots of debates are taking place in the United States about the wisdom of the war and whether US forces should stay. George W. Bush expects the US military to stay in Iraq even after he has left office. I'm inclined to agree with that prediction though I'd rather withdraw now.

However, the American mainstream debate on Iraq bores me because it takes place under the same thought crime rules for denying biological factors in human nature that govern debates on American domestic issues. The mainstream debate on Iraq has hit a stalemate as reality has collided with faith (surely everyone has the capacity and desire to support a democracy regardless of what our lying eyes are telling us). As a result I'm more interested in discussing patterns of behavior happening in Iraq. Most notably, the ethnic cleansing in Iraq has accelerated since the Samarra Golden Mosque bombing.

Saeed Haqqi, head of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, said Shiites have fled mainly to Sadr City and to the southern cities of Najaf, Karbala and Basra. Sunnis were headed mostly to Baghdad's Abu Ghraib suburb and to Tarmiyah, where Shiites were recently run out of the town 30 miles north of the capital.

Minister of Migration Suhaila Abed Jaafar said her department has helped 3,705 displaced families nationwide since Feb. 22.

U.S. military engineers working to upgrade the Iraqi electricity grid estimate each Iraqi family at six people. The math, then, shows the known number of displaced at more than 22,000 in the past month alone.

And that figure does not count what must be hundreds, if not thousands, more families who have moved in with relatives, taken shelter in community centers and mosques or occupied partially built homes and those abandoned by displaced members of the other Muslim sect.

Read the full article for anecdotes of killings, threatening notes, sudden flight, and the rest of it.

Now I can just hear some of you: "Oh, this is horrible. Oh, this is a great tragedy." Others who support the war think I'm just doing my regular negative schtick about Iraq. But you would be wrong. The internet being what it is and my mind also being what it is I often find myself clicking around reading many articles in parallel. Well, I clicked over to Adam Lawson's Modern Tribalist and saw a post about how Israel was founded on ethnic cleansing where Adam linked to Geoffrey Wheatcroft arguing that obviously Israel's modern democracy was founded on ethnic cleansing (which is a true statement btw).

And yet those admirers missed some salient truths. That beautiful democratic Israel of 50 years ago was founded on ethnic cleansing. The later expansion of Israel was actually less brutal: after 1967 a number of Palestinians were uprooted, but there was nothing to compare with the wholesale expulsion of three-quarters of a million Palestinians in 1948 - an event to which the right-thinking liberal west closed its eyes at the time.

Then it dawned on me: we are overseeing a civil war that is causing an ethnic cleansing that will lead to the creation of 3 states in Iraq. These states could, like Israel, become sufficiently ethnically pure to function as democracies. "But wait", I hear the human biodiversity realists saying, "the Iraqis still lack sufficient loyalty to the state due to consanguineous marriages, Islam, low average intelligence levels, and perhaps still other cultural and genetic factors". Well true enough. You got me there. Still, the ethnic cleansing is at least a step in the direction of democratic states and Rome wasn't built in a day.

As previously mentioned, one of the reasons that ethnically pure break-away states in Iraq won't turn into liberal democracies is average levels of intelligence that are too low. Well, events in Iraq are making the intelligence deficit worse as the smarties are getting killed and driven abroad.

The growing insecurity has set off a massive brain drain, as more and more Iraqis slip away from the country, perhaps never to return. While the fall of Saddam Hussein opened the door for an earlier generation of Iraqi exiles to go home, now the flow is going the other way again. Kidnap survivors are the lucky ones. Hundreds of Iraqi professionals are being murdered in what some Iraqis see as a deliberate campaign to destroy the country's best and brightest. The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research says that 89 university professors and senior lecturers have been killed since 2003, and police investigations have led to nothing.

Iraqi academics have compiled a longer list of up to 105 names of assassinated colleagues. The most recent was Professor Ali Muhawesh, the dean of the engineering college at Mustansiriya University, one of Baghdad's two main campuses. He was shot this week.

The rate of killing is increasing. Some 311 teachers have been murdered in the past four months alone, according to the Ministry of Education. It is not only Baghdad that is suffering. The medical college in Mosul, a city in northern Iraq, has lost nine senior staff.

Even outside Iraq, fear consumes many exiles. In Jordan's capital, Amman, the first port of call for most refugees, requests for interviews produced repeated rejections. Others would only talk if false names were used and no mention made of where they work or live.

But this flight abroad could be a positive development. If all the smarties get driven out of some countries the clustering of smarties in other countries could jump-start the economic development of the latter countries. Jordan in particular could benefit from an influx of relatively smarter Iraqi Sunnis.

"Always look on the bright side of life."

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 March 24 02:20 AM  Mideast Iraq Ethnic Cleansing

Dave said at March 24, 2006 4:52 PM:

You think only sufficiently ethnically pure states can function as democracies? tbh I am a little supprised to hear you say that, what about the USA?

In the context of Iraq I would agree, I think the Kurds would get on just fine on their own, although life for shi'ite women might become a little tough in the South.

Randall Parker said at March 24, 2006 5:18 PM:


America has a large (though rapidly dwindling) white majority. As the white majority declines the democracy will as well.

About 90% of the American blacks vote for the Democrats. They do not choose between the two parties. If it was up to them we'd basically have a one party state.

Less well known, a solid majority of whites always votes for the Republicans. Jews overwhelmingly and consistently vote for the Democrats.

In a single ethnic state the voters of that ethnicity will swing back and forth in terms of which side they give a majority to. In a multi-ethnic state a country ends up getting organized along the lines of ethnic parties. In America the press tries to pretend this hasn't happened. But it has.

The lack of competition for votes leads to corruption. Also, whichever party wins pursues policies for some ethnicities against other ethnicities.

Stephen said at March 24, 2006 8:11 PM:

I don't buy the white=democracy argument. Sit at a street cafe in Damascus or Beirut and you'll have trouble distinguishing many of the locals from a person of northern european lineage. Conversely, do some people watching in Moscow and you'll see plenty of white people, but democracy there has been illusive.

Also, the peoples of England, France, Germany and (to a lesser extent) the US, are equally white to a number of decimal places and therefore should be homogeneous, and yet all have fought civil wars. In fact, the only two 'white' countries that I can think of that haven't had civil wars are Canada and Australia - maybe because both are very pleasant places to live, with plenty of elbow room.

I think democracy is primarily economic, it needs a large middle-class before it can thrive.

Dave said at March 24, 2006 8:34 PM:

hmm, when you say "they don't choose between the two parties" a lot of people think little changes no matter who is in power so there is little incentive to go out and make a strong informed choice. Surely if there was a bigger and better choice between 4-5-6 different parties instead of just 2, that would lead to more diverse thinking for different ethnic groups? or perhaps it would just make the ethnic loyalties more obvious.

You are saying the future of the USA is not democracy?

Mexicans who most of the immigrants to the US are, are not really a single race, some of them are whites, most Mestizos, other pure native. So perhaps they are less likely to block vote than other immigrant groups?

Maybe the block vote is why most politicans from western democracies like large scale immigration, its easier for the politicans to play identity politics than to deal with real issues, its effectively a way of corrupting democracy.

I don't quite understand you saying Jews vote democrats, isn't it often claimed that Republican neo-cons are mostly Jews or is that lies?, and previously you have talked about the high IQ of jews, if they are so intelligent how can they be voting democrats? I've not always been against democrats but they do seem particularly crazy recently.

crush41 said at March 24, 2006 10:48 PM:

For Jews in the US it's about a 3-1 split in favor of Democrats.

No group in the US is going to vote as disproportionately as Iraqi Shia, Sunni, and Kurds save blacks. Consequently, blacks are the least powerful group in America. Iraqi elections are going to go in favor of Shia. Kurds and Sunnis are not going to be swing voters. There is no reason for Shia to try and win them over. Al-Jaafari need only look at the Republican Party's consistently failed attempts to court minorities rather than focusing on restricting their inflow to see the futility in "reaching out".


I think you're making Randall's point in a way. Civil Wars in the Occident have largely been fought over ideology. That way of political thinking is in its gloam. The dividers are increasingly becoming ethnic instead of ideological. Can the Hegellian model work in the latter environment? Or is human progress coming to a screeching halt in the West (Charles Murray has raised the question as to why this is already happening in his view--hopefully he'll write a book on it in the future)?

I agree with your last sentence entirely. The problem is, class is linked to ethnicity. So balkanized countries don't have a stable bourgeois unless their diversity is like that of Hong Kong.

Jorge D.C. said at March 24, 2006 11:47 PM:

And yet those admirers missed some salient truths. That beautiful democratic Israel of 50 years ago was founded on ethnic cleansing.

Hey why stop there? "Ethnic cleansing" played in a key role in the foundation of nearly every nation on earth. Every arable inch of the planet has been "cleansed" many times over. Including by all of those morally superior native American tribes.

This is the rough and tumble reality of our darwinian orb. Ground is held until a stronger party (usually a distinct ethnic group) takes it away - and no longer.

I am glad that the Webmaster here realizes that "ethnic cleansing" is often a necessary step in the evolution of society. This is one of the great ugly truths of human existence that liberals simply cannot handle. But think about how likely it would've been for the US Constitution - that light unto nations - to have sprung out of a multi-ethnic polity. Fat chance.

Ethnic homogeneity provides a basic level of political stability and coherence. Without it a nation or state or city or village is consigned to the distraction of ethnic struggle as the other posters have described.

Jorge D.C. said at March 25, 2006 12:15 AM:

Dave says:

You think only sufficiently ethnically pure states can function as democracies? tbh I am a little supprised to hear you say that, what about the USA?

..."ethnically pure" is not necessary. But certainly a solid ethnic majority is needed to provide the stable environment. There is a tipping point. I will estimate that it's around 70%. Right where the white majority is in the USA now supposedly. (Whites make up supposedly around 68% of the US population in 2006. But millions of non-whites are counted as white by the US census - obviously. Just as any Iraqi war refugees will surely be counted as white once they reach our shores...Arabs, Jews, Persians, Pakistanis etc. are all white bread as far as the US census is concerned).

That's not to say that democracy vanishes immediately when no clear majority is present. An extended transition of ethnic power grabbing is likely before a society reaches civil war. But who knows. It can all very suddenly hit the fan.

Consider the political coherence of many of the USA's major cities in 2006. These places are essentially engaged in very polite ethnic warfare - tamed by the higher federal level coherence of a solid white political majority.

Consider the future political turmoil just around the corner when the US House and US Senate have devolved into the ethnic squabbling of a big city government writ large. Make no mistake: it means national breakdown.

You can thank your local left wingers for this state of affairs.

In related news: illegal aliens in several cities around the country staged mass demonstrations and waved Mexican flags today.

Bob Badour said at March 25, 2006 4:16 AM:
I don't buy the white=democracy argument.

I don't recall anyone making that argument. Democracy can work with an overwhelming Japanese majority as it does in Japan. Democracy can work in an overwhelming Chinese majority as it does in Taiwan and did in Hong Kong.

In the USA, the overwhelming majority just happened to be white. I should point out that it was not homogeneous white but comprised a heterogeneous mix of white ethnies. However, the doctrine of assimilation made them all American whites.

the only two 'white' countries that I can think of that haven't had civil wars are Canada and Australia

I don't know so much about Australia. Regarding Canada, I suggest you look up The Red River Rebellion, The North-West Rebellion and The Rebellions of 1837. While those uprisings did not amount to full-scale civil war like in the USA, I suggest one need only wait for that to happen in Canada.

Randall Parker said at March 25, 2006 6:51 AM:


In order for democracy to work what is needed is:

- A majority ethnic group. It can't work if the country is split up into N minority groups with no majority.

- The ethnic majority also has to be the market dominant group.

- The ethnic majority has to be smart enough to manage a democracy.

- The ethnic majority has to possess other cultural and probably genetic attributes to make a democracy work.

That ethnic majority does not have to be white. One could form a country of Brahmin Indians or probably Tamil Indians (and probably some other castes about which I know too little to say) and probably make a fairly successful democracy for example.

Dave said at March 25, 2006 10:47 AM:

Isn't it a bit too simplistic to talk about 'white' Americans though? In 2004 the Ukraine revolution was split between white pro Western Ukrainians and white pro-Russian ethnic Russians. Are 'white' Americans really so united as an ethnic group? In Europe there is certainly a lot of ethnic rivalry between whites, only a few days ago the French president walked out of a meeting because a French guy was speaking in English.

Randall Parker said at March 25, 2006 11:35 AM:


One should be clear when using the terms "ethnic group" or "race". An ethnic group is not the same as a race. There are a lot more ethnic groups than races.

But the white ethnic groups in America have assimilated into a single group for the most part and lost almost all their old country loyalties and interests. They all speak English (excepting a lot of Spaniards in Miami).

Ukraine is split between groups that speak two different languages. People who speak different languages can not discuss and argue together and come to a consensus. They are less likely to interbreed. They have big conflicts of interest on what language should be used for instruction at each school, what language should be used inside of each company, and so on.

Look at the Quebecois successionist movement in Canada. Look at the Flemish secessionists in Belgium and the way the Belgian government violates their rights by restricting their speech. Language divisions split countries.

Roland Ansgar said at March 26, 2006 4:10 AM:

You say you want democracy in Iraq, but you claim to be looking at events from outside the box. Well, it reads more like you're still inside the box, to me. Democratic nation-states have one of the worst track records in world history for making war, squandering limited resources, and destruction of cultural traditions. Democracy gets a D- score. If you want to understand this argument, read about the research done by Hans-Hermann Hoppe and found in his book, Democracy: The God That Failed.

Randall Parker said at March 26, 2006 6:50 AM:

Roland Ansgar,

You have me confused with someone who thinks that democracy can help in the Middle East. I'm making the argument for why democracy in the Middle East is not possible.

As for what democratic nation-states have done: You are wrong if you think what they did is a simple result of their being democracies. That they were able to become democracies in the first place is a result of their having populaces IQs higher than the world average (which is 90 btw), having civil societies, having higher trust societies, and other attributes.

Those attributes made them have the ability to harness much resources in the first place. Yes, they sometimes harnessed those resources for war. But in some cases (e.g. World War II) they fought states that had ceased to be democratic that also had higher average IQs and a high capacity to harness resources.

Mark Amerman said at March 26, 2006 7:04 AM:

Let me preface my comments by saying I really don't know. This is just speculation by someone far from the events in question who has no firsthand knowledge.

Having said that one of the things that puzzles me about Iraq is why the civil war (if it is a civil war) is so low key. Now I don't want to get into an argument about whether Iraq is in a "civil war" or not. That isn't my point. What I'm saying is let's imagine we have a group X somewhere that's has been systematically and blatent killing members of group Y for the last three years.

Most places on the planet, most ethnic groups, it really would be just a short time before members of group Y started killing members of group X. But somehow this hasn't happened in Iraq. Or more accurately the response has been disproportionately small.

So why?

Here's a theory.

First I recall reading from the account of someone visiting Iraq from about a year before the american invasion (and I really should dig up this person's name so you can read his words for yourself) that to this person's perception about one-third of the people in Baghdad were seriously and obviously mentally ill and could not function in any normal sense.

I also recall reading that in the first months after the american invasion it was fairly easy for american troops to distinguish Baathist beneficiaries from the majority of the population because most people were thin and sickly and just at a glance looked like there was something wrong with them while there was a minority of the population that looked well fed.

I suspect that for thirty years Saddam Hussein waged war on his enemies which came to include most of the population and especially the shiites and that many shiites suffer from nutritional deficiencies that affected their physical and mental development and that cannot at this point be corrected. Further I suspect that Saddam during his thirty years managed to kill most of the brighter and more talented shiites and that the shiite majority of Iraq has only a very small pool of people that are capable of fighting a civil war.

Thus shiite forbearance of (what could be readily perceived as) sunni atrocities reflects not a choice but an incapacity to do anything else.

Randall asks, "Are most of the stringers Sunnis or Shias?"

My guess is that the stringers are overwhelming Sunni. My guess is that if we look at Iraqi blogs on the internet almost all these people are Sunni. Overwhelming we perceive and read about Iraq through Sunni eyes. The reason the Baathists and Al Quaedi targetted shiites after
the american invasion is that the majority of the sunni supported the overthrow of Saddam.

The atrocities were and are committed to provoke a racist shiite counter-response so as to change the conflict into an ethnic one and turn the majority of sunnis into allies. After three years of resistance to this proposition from the majority of sunni, this is finally starting to happen.

Randall Parker said at March 26, 2006 8:12 AM:


Why isn't there a far more intense civil war between Sunnis and Shias?

First off, Arabs are really lousy at forming large armies because their loyalties lie elsewhere, mostly at much lower levels of society. Hard to get them to form up into two big sides.

Second, a certain amount of what they are doing is signalling between tribes and within tribes. This is a variation on the first point. I read an article on Arab tribal warfare recently explained this style of fighting. But I can't remember where. Does this ring a bell with anyone?

Third, many Shias and Sunnis live in areas which have few of the other sect. So they do not look around and see anyone to attack. In fact, as the ethnic cleansing continues this'll probably lead to an eventual reduction in the violence as they become better separated.

See Norville de Atkine's Why Arabs Lose Wars.

Mark Amerman said at March 26, 2006 10:12 AM:


Healing Iraq has a map of the distribution of religious groups in the Baghdad area:


Healing Iraq is probably doing a better job than anyone
of documenting the movement further into civil war.


Randall Parker said at March 26, 2006 10:28 AM:


The mixed areas are becoming a lot less mixed. So that map (which is very interesting - thanks for the link) is becoming out of date.

I think the internal migrations are, on net, a good thing chiefly because they reduce the ability of people in each group to kill people in the other groups.

Dave said at March 26, 2006 10:37 AM:

But the attitude of most politicians in the West is that ethnic cleansing is bad because it teaches people to live within their own group, and that to reach a classless raceless society we must become more diverse so we can learn to get along with each other and overcome our differences. You are basically saying that is bs? or just for some countries?

Randall Parker said at March 26, 2006 11:14 AM:


We are not developing a classless and raceless society in America. Our neighborhoods are not racially integrated. Whites flee blacks. Whites flee Hispanics. Hispanics flee blacks. The people who claim to like other races the most are the ones who can afford to isolate themselves from them.

The white middle class takes on crushing financial burdens to keep their kids in private schools to avoid black and Hispanic kids. They say they are doing it because "the schools are failing". The "schools", not "the black and Hispanic kids". The parents are not allowed to speak the truth. So they communicate in code phrases.

Americans are very dishonest about race because the left-liberal press, academia, and politicians insist that we lie.

Look at what all this lying has done. George W. Bush, no great thinker he, took the left-liberal patter about race at face value and went charging into a situation that isn't working out according to plan. He's using the left-liberal lies about human nature as his working assumptions.

The liberals don't want to challenge him very effectively on Iraq because to do so would require public repudiation of their secular faith. So he have this sterile debate about what is going in Iraq. The problem can't have any biological bases. No, you have to say everyone loves democracy and freedom or you'll be called racist. Love of freedom and respect for the rights of others is innate in human nature we are told by the thought crime taboo enforcers.

I see the Iraq Debacle as the culmination of American left-liberalism. The lies about human nature have been extended so far that the neocons could con us into this idiocy. The elephant is in the room. The soldiers are dying. But the truth is, for the most part, absent from the public debate.

Dave said at March 26, 2006 1:37 PM:

Can you really say Bush's Iraq adventure was American left-liberalism?, in European press Bush is portrayed as an ultra right-wing religious cowboy. They would be astonished to hear he was a liberal.

If you are saying you don't think Iraq can be democracy (without some kind of division) what can they do? go back to a Saddam like figure and just hope he behaves?

Ned said at March 26, 2006 2:47 PM:

In addition to all the other reasons pointed out here (low IQ, ethnic and religous hatreds, etc.), low per capita GDP is another reason why democracy won't succeed in Iraq. As was noted in a previous discussion on this board, countries with per capita GDP's over $6,000 almost always succed as democracies, while those below $3,000 essentially always fail. Jonah Goldberg discussed this on NRO Online two yaers ago (http://www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg200403310820.asp). It's based on a study by Adam Przeworski. According to the CIA World Factbook, the Iraq per capita GDP is $3,400 (and this may have been pre-invasion). But here's the kicker - oil money doesn't count, according to Przeworski. So there is almost no chance that democracy will work in Iraq.

I think one of the greatest influences on Bush may have been Natan Sharansky, a very brave pro-democracy and pro-Zionist activist who was imprisoned for many years in the old USSR by the KGB. Sharansky wrote a book called, "The Case for Democracy," about the transforming power of democracy on authoritarian society. Bush said he read this book (as I have) and that he thought it was significant. While I admire Sharansky very much, I think he was just plain wrong about democracy in the Middle East. The peoples there seem to get greater pleasure out of bashing their neighbors than from trying to live peacefully with them. The Middle East has come to resemble the way the Balkans were (and maybe still are) - an area of endless blood feuds, vendettas, racial, religious and ethnic rivalries and constant low-level warfare, where ethnic purity seems to be the first requirement for successful statehood and where only brutal dictators (Tito, Saddam) can hold multiethnic nations together. It seems unavoidable that Iraq is headed toward a breakup into Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite states. This may bring some degree of peace to Iraq but could produce its own dangerous consequences. Turkey, with its large, powerful, NATO-equipped army, will not be happy to see a quasi-independent Kurdistan on its eastern border and may decide to snuff it out. The Sunni state (in the middle) will be the smallest and poorest due to the lack of oil revenue but will attract support from Syria, Saudi Arabia and perhaps other Sunni-dominated states. And the large Shiite state in the south will have close ties with Iran, the clear winner in the endgame. This will threaten the Saudis, who were certainly no admirers of Saddam but who may view the Iranians and their Shiite friends as a greater danger.

Randall Parker said at March 26, 2006 3:26 PM:


Certainly Bush thinks of himself as a Christian conservative. So do many of his supporters. But he's not a conservative in the Burkean sense of the term.

He's absorbed the assumptions of left-liberalism when it comes to human nature. He thinks humans are more malleable and also more inclined to support a free society than they in fact are. He also assumes (and this comes from the left) that all human groups have the same average predilections and abilities.

Look at who opposes and supports him. The so-called paleo-conservatives (who are more classical conservative) think he's nuts and very much their enemy. His support comes from ex-Marxists like Christopher Hitchens and neocons who are basically liberals who left the Democratic Party because they are hawks. Hitchens said that he had conservations with Paul Wolfowitz and found him to be a bleeding heart (i.e. bleeding hearted liberal big social spender in American political parlance). Look at Bush's spending. He's greatly increased entitlements spending and education spending at the federal level.

As for what Iraq can do to get a good government: There's not a happy ending over there. If they have a democracy they'll continue to elect theocrats chosen by clerics. Or they can have a clerical council that rules directly. Or they can revert to the dictator model and hope for a dictator not as bad as Saddam.

If they split up the portions will be less poorly ruled than the whole. Kurdistan will have the best government. The Kurds are going to secede anyway and de facto already have.

Randall Parker said at March 26, 2006 3:45 PM:

Ned reminds me that I did a post on the democracy-per capita income line. See my post Low Per Capita Income Countries Never Remain Democracies. I went back and found Przeworski's paper and posted an excerpt from it.

Also, if you see my post Unilaterally Withdraw From Iraq Or First Partition? you'll see a longer list of reasons why democracy isn't going to work well in Iraq.

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