August 29, 2007

Will Guns Prevent Iraqi Genocide?

by PG

Advocates for retaining a large number of American soldiers in Iraq frequently cite the probability of a genocide against the Sunni minority as a reason for liberals to join this position: if liberals really care about preventing genocide, the argument goes, they should want to prevent it in Iraq.

(Personally I think large-scale violence in Iraq will look more like 1947 India -- 12 million moved, at least 1/2 million killed -- than like 1994 Rwanda, as a large, once-dominant minority moves to its enclaves and members of the majority resident in those enclaves move out, though it may be to Iraq's temporary advantage that those enclaves will be determined by the actual strength of the groups rather than by Brits with bad maps. My dad, fresh from a visit to Turkey, recently praised the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey, pointing out that as large shifts of antagonistic groups go, it was admirably peaceful.)

However, given the failure to disarm either Shiites or Sunnis, under Dave Kopel's apparent* theory that being armed can prevent genocide and other crimes such as lynching, shouldn't Iraq be one of the places least likely to experience genocide? Or does the widespread possession of weapons just mean that the Sunnis will take a lot of Shiites down with them? (Well, whatever Shiites are left after rival militias have finished with each other.)

* Kopel has said that "although disarmament does not cause genocide -- disarmament is the sine qua non of genocide." In other words, there can be disarmament without genocide, but there can be no genocide without disarmament. Presumably there can be internment without disarmament, however, as to my knowledge the Japanese-Americans rounded up after Pearl Harbor were legally able to possess guns.

August 29, 2007 07:43 AM | TrackBack
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