The militant Sunni group Isis has said it is establishing a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the territories it controls in Iraq and Syria.
This is not the first border we will break, we will break other borders," its spokesman warns. Standing on a border sign he threatens to "break the borders" of Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. [more inside]
Forty maps that explain the Middle East.
Includes sections on Middle East history, the region today, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and oil, Iraq and Libya, and "points of light." [more inside]
In two weeks of blood and fire, one of the greatest intellectual
and cultural legacies
the world had ever seen came to an end. Crushed under the hooves of a mighty foe (in one case literally
), a dynasty
, an empire
, a city
, and a library
all disappeared. It was perhaps the swiftest and most complete collapse of a civilization ever, still felt to this day
. Now, how about for some context? [more inside]
The Iraq War: was there even a decision? "Perhaps most revealing ... is what is missing--any indication whatsoever from the declassified record to date that top Bush administration officials seriously considered an alternative to war. In contrast there is an extensive record of efforts to energize military planning, revise existing contingency plans, and create a new, streamlined war plan." The National Security Archive
at George Washington University has released a set of documents from the US and British archives related to the Iraq war: Part I
, Part II
, Part III
Political scientist Russell Burgos
(who served in Iraq):
... there is indeed a kind of inevitability about the confrontation, but it was an inevitability created by domestic politics rather than 9/11. In my estimation, the origins of the "path to war" are found in the Republican Revolution of 1994; I will suggest that from 1996 to 2000, Iraq policy was not about Iraq - it was about an increasingly strident partisan attack on President Bill Clinton in which "Iraq" was not a subject of deliberate policy but was a synecdoche for "Clinton's failure."
Historian Robert Jervis
also comments. Via H-DIPLO
Is history repeating itself?
Note quite 2000 years ago, the Roman hegemony got its first black leader - a former senator whose father was African and mother was white. Septimius Severus
inherited a failed military campaign in Iraq and an ailing economy. He first resolves the situation in Iraq
, undertakes a number of new building projects
, stamps out governmental corruption, raises taxes to pay for wage increases (and kicks British arse a few times)
. Ultimately though, it all might have only hastened the Empire's decline
The Devastation of Iraq's Past.
"Since the looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad in April 2003, the international press has accorded considerable space to the country's imperiled ancient heritage. Much of this coverage, however, has been devoted to the museum, the impressive campaign to recover its stolen works, and the continued struggle to reopen its galleries. Only occasional, anecdotal reports—mostly from the first year of the conflict—have borne witness to large-scale plunder of archaeological sites
, to which the damage is irreversible."
- Given Saddam Hussein's central place in the American Consciousness over the last couple decades and particularly in recent years, I found 60 minutes' interview with FBI interrogator
George Piro pretty fascinating.
Lessons from Past Western Incursions in the Middle East.
A speech by Juan Cole
at the New America Foundation
in which he discusses his new book, Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East
, and the relevance and lessons of Napoleon's expedition in Egypt to the current American occupation of Iraq. A shorter version, covering many of the same points, is in this article: Pitching the Imperial Republic
Embrace the Suck.
Intensive military activity creates an incubator for slang. By bringing together people from geographically diverse backgrounds, putting them into stressful circumstances, and teaching them a new language of jargon and acronym
, the armed forces create fertile ground for new idioms - many of which return home in civvies when the conflicts are over. In the Civil War
, World War I
and World War II
, in Korea
and in Viet Nam
, servicepeople created or popularized now-familiar terms like shoddy, hotshot, cooties, tailspin, fleabag, face time, joystick, SNAFU, FUBAR, flaky, gung ho, no sweat, flame-out,
and many, many others
Now, the GWOT
brings us a new generation
. Military columnist Austin Bay
has published an early collection of neologisms from Gulf War II
. On NPR, Bay explains what The Suck is
, how to identify a fobbit
, and why Marines look down on the attitude of Semper I
22 basic suggested readings on the Middle East
from history professor and informed commenter on Middle Eastern affairs Juan Cole
Iraqi peacekeepers sent to the Scottish border...
1600 years ago. The Notitia Dignitatum
, the Roman equivalent of an organisation chart for the imperial bureaucracy in the fifth century, contains a reference to soldiers from the Tigris stationed at Hadrian's Wall
. More on the Notitia here
; more on Hadrian's Wall here
, including a 3D tour
of a fort near the Wall, and tablets
discovered at another fort
(including a request by a commanding officer for "more beer"
Iraq 2007: A geopolitical fantasy of what might have been
'...Today, such famous sites as the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, the ziggurat at Ur, the temple precinct at Babylon, and a ninth-century spiral minaret at Samarra have been scarred by violence, while equally important ancient sites, particularly in the southern provinces, are being ravaged by looters who work day and night to fuel an international art market hungry for antiquities. Historic districts in urban areas have also suffered from vandalism, looting, and artillery fire. In response to such widespread damage and continuing threats to our collective cultural heritage and the significance of the sites at risk, World Monument Fund
has taken the unprecedented step of including the entire country of Iraq
on its 2006 list of 100 Most Endangered Sites
.'The 2003- Iraq War & Archaeology
The Smash of Civilizations
is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the latest less than great Hollywood historical epic
. A leader who seems to have viewed war as the means to a more perfect peace
, his namesake now belongs to the Iraqi provence containing Tikrit
, his birthplace and a city now all too familiar
to us. The modern context
of his story is important and obvious
What I Heard about Iraq
--from 1992 until today. head-spinning.
Thanks for the memories
..."I know it’s a fallacy * That grown men never cry
Baby, that’s a lie * We had our bed of roses
But forgot that roses die * And thank you so much..."
From Nanjing 1937 to Fallujah 2004
; Is the U.S. Repeating the Mistakes of Japan in the 1930s?
; Attempting Analogy: Japanese Manchuria and Occupied Iraq
and Manchuria and Iraq, 1932 and 2004
: you can kiss that Vietnam analogy good bye--when historians talk history, they range farther afield. I ♥ the History News Network
! Here is food for thought at an all night, all you can eat smorgasbord--those who teach history are condemned to discuss it and we're all the better for it.
For example, Hala Fattah's Askari Street
is my current favorite Iraqi weblog. She gives us the history of the Arab horse, the Pachachi family, the Shammar tribe and Kirkuk, and its place in Iraqi History and she has barely begun to write.
HNN: oh, it's an embarrassment of riches and a fount of endless fascination.
A photo journal
of a UNPA Nurse Practitioner's experiences in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
John Dean's analysis of the administrations case for War.
"What I found, in critically examining Bush's evidence, is not pretty. The African uranium matter is merely indicative of larger problems, and troubling questions of potential and widespread criminality when taking the nation to war. It appears that not only the Niger uranium hoax, but most everything else that Bush said about Saddam Hussein's weapons was false, fabricated, exaggerated, or phony."
A dissappearing history.
The National Museum of Iraq
recorded a history of civilizations that began to flourish in the fertile plains of Mesopotamia more than 7,000 years ago. But once American troops entered Baghdad in sufficient force to topple Saddam Hussein's government this week, it took only 48 hours for the museum to be destroyed, with at least 170,000 artifacts carried away by looters.
History of Iraq
from the Denver Post. "President Bush speaks of the need to 'defend civilization'.. Then I point out the irony of defending civilization against the cradle of civilization".
The long history of Iraq.
Iraq has been ruled by a lot of regimes, ranging from Mesopotamian to British rule
. It gained independence on 1932, and has since then seen more regime changes. According to their official site there still is tourism
, but other sites have a more practical view
Altough it is not in my holiday plans this year it could be a very cultural rich destination
in the future.
"ABC News Nightline opened last June 9 with words to make the heart stop. "It is becoming increasingly clear," said a grave Ted Koppel, "that George Bush, operating largely behind the scenes throughout the 1980s, initiated and supported much of the financing, intelligence, and military help that built Saddam's Iraq into the aggressive power that the United States ultimately had to destroy."
Does it matter if no one reports it? Does a tree falling make a sound if no one hears it? Are these facts not relevant to the war against Iraq? For your debating pleasure, a blast from the past.
The stuff from which Myth is made.
A recent discovery of a meteor impact crater in the middle-east, dating around 2300BC, is shedding new light on the decline of many cultures and the rise of many legends.