Nuri al-Maliki, the Bush neocon choice to run post-invasion Iraq, is offering citizens weapons to fight al-Qaeda affiliate the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).
The terrorist group has taken control of Mosul and is moving on other areas of the northern Iraq province of Nineveh, including Hawijah, Zab, Riyadh, Abbasi, Rashad and Yankaja.
Army officers told Reuters their troops are demoralized and no match for ISIS jihadists.
Appearing on national television, al-Malaki said the government has “created a special crisis cell to follow up on the process of volunteering and equipping and arming.”
The Prime Minister’s cabinet “praises the willingness of the citizens and the sons of the tribes to volunteer and carry weapons… to defend the homeland and defeat terrorism,” he said.
Malaki’s address reveals how the modern state operates when faced with a serious challenge. Under normal conditions a government will strive to make certain individuals are disarmed and unable to defend themselves.
Armed citizens, particularly in a political and social hellhole like Iraq (courtesy of the United States), are considered a threat to the state, especially if they are politically organized. The state will do whatever it can by any means necessary to ensure its monopoly of violence.
But if the state faces the prospect of losing its power and monopoly of violence, as the government in Baghdad now does, it will allow citizens-subjects to take up arms temporarily. It will also directly appeal to their sense of nationalism or, in the case of the average Iraqi, his tribalism. It will then demand sacrifice for the preservation of the state.
The question is, if the citizens of northern Iraq successfully drive out al-Qaeda will they be told to turn over their weapons to the state and, if demanded to do so, will they comply?
The average Iraqi may rightfully conclude if he had firearms in the first place, it would have been far more difficult, even impossible, for al-Qaeda to have taken over Mosul and other cities.
There is a lesson for liberals in the West. It is really quite simple: The state cannot and will not protect you. The police have admitted as much. Be it threats posed by al-Qaeda or a predatory criminal element, individuals are responsible for their own defense. The state will only protect its own interests.
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