Friday, May 6, 2016

Iraq, Gray Zones, and Dead Prussians

I hate to call up the dead Prussian, but we do have to remember that Carl—that is Clausewitz—did have a point with his paradoxical trinity of war. In today's context, wars and conflicts are so much more than just the threat aspect of circumstances. They entail the threat and the policies and the social structures and the norms and motives and the whole host of other things that make up human interaction. Consequently, we find situations like the challenge with ISIS and Syria and Iraq confusing at best and mismatched at worst. I will offer two options to think and ponder upon this weekend.

The first is a great interview session for the podcast, To the Point, with Warren Olney. The show segment about Iraq teetering on the brink is very telling as they discuss the recent demonstration by citizens inside the "green zone." This is an important and significant event, in my opinion. It is what I would suggest is an indicator of something. Of what, I am not exactly sure, but it is likely not to be good in the near term. There is significant potential for serious instability that could make the fight against ISIS a side show. Listen to Warren Olney talk with several guests about these recent developments.

To The Point segment: Iraq Teeters on the Brink

In terms of colored zones, we should then think about the ever present gray zone. The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative has a nice piece discussing the gray zone, before it became in vogue in military circles. The piece by Sven Peterke takes a look at drug wars and “gray zones” from an international law. This perspective further illustrates the point that conflict is not so simple. The duality of peace and war seems like a simple construct, but when you look at international laws, norms, jurisprudence, humanitarian considerations, and the totality of interactions between states, non-states, and everything in between, you see that conflicts—wars—are comprehensive phenomenon.