This week in "Last Throes of the Insurgency"

150 people kidnapped all at once.

Police and witnesses said about 80 gunmen were involved in the raid the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Scholarships and Cultural Relations Directorate in the downtown Karradah district. The institute is responsible for granting scholarships to Iraqi professors and students wishing to study abroad.

The article also says that this is the biggest kidnapping since March, when 50 people were kidnapped-- and they’re still missing.

I read the BBC story on this. Sounds very much like the “Ministry Fiefdom” system of goverment ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Also this caught my eye from yesterday’s news:

An overnight US raid killed six people in mainly-Shia east Baghdad, sparking angry anti-US protests

Thirty died in a US raid on the Sunni stronghold of Ramadi, Iraqi officials say.

How is it we’re not in the middle of a civil war again?

Because Bush hasn’t said so???

Because with all the kidnapping, torture, bombing and whatnot it should be clear as the nose on your face that what is going on in Iraq is far from being a civil war.

I have to wonder if this is part of the strategy. I mean, with hundreds dying or disappearing every day, the death rate has to be surpassing the birth rate by a factor of 30 or more. Maybe the plan is to wait until they all kill each other off?

To be fair, a factor of thirty is probably a really huge number.

If you want to just wait till they kill themselves off, you could do that from home.

Sure, but you can’t throw gas on the fire from your living room.

A civil war generally implies a war between two or more factions within a nation who may then recruit assistance from external groups, not a war between two external nations who are recruiting assistance from internal groups.

The Iraqis are merely pawns in a game between the US and Iran.

I’m pretty sure the Sunni, Shiites, and Kurds would be at each others throats regardless; a history of mass butchery will do that.

That’s about right. I’m not entirely certain about who’s playing whom in Iraq. Is it Iran and the US playing chess with the unfortunate locals or the locals playing Iran and the US against each other as they continue their internal scrambles to come out on top?

The whole place is a Gordian knot of intrigue from what I can tell.

But on the biggest issue of preventing full-scale civil war, Iran may not be able to rein in Iraq’s Shiite militias. “Lots of people in the Shiite community are happy to take Iranian money and arms but they are not willing to take Iranian orders,” said Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.