Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

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Who wins in Iraq, FP asks

The current issue of Foreign Policy (March-April) has a ‘Who Wins in Iraq’ feature. The editors have compiled a Top Ten list of groups they see as having benefited most from the war in (and on Iraq), with accompanying essays by various commentators.

Ordinarily I would see the benefit of a cui bono exercise, but here I think the editors have compiled a highly unsatisfactory list.

For starters, it imbibes the simplistic and dubious proposition that whole groups can be identified as having “won” from war, or that wars can be won or lost. The place is a quagmire and the death of a million Iraqis, the destruction of infrastructure, and collapse of the country as a direct result of the Anglo-American invasion is brushed aside in favour of this dubious cost-benefit style retrospective assessment.

Next, what’s missing from the list? For a start, the most glaring omission are the war profiteers, the corporations who are profiting from the privatisation of Iraq’s oil and those engaged in private security arrangements (the second largest army in Iraq are company mercenaries such as those provided by Blackwater). My own thinking is that #10 (Israel) should be much higher in the list, and that, with some exceptions, they’ve inverted the key beneficiaries of this terrible war (Iran, #1?!). To place Huntington and his flawed Clash of Civilisations thesis at #4 further erodes the credibility of the list for me.

You may also be interested in:

* Iraq: Who Might Be Shooting at Both Sides?
* Juan Cole: Top Ten Myths About Iraq 2006
* Who wants a civil war in Iraq?
* Information Warfare, Psy-ops and the Power of Myth

Who Wins in Iraq?

Newspaper headlines consistently remind us of the failures coming out of Iraq. The number of U.S. soldiers who have lost their lives continues to climb. The deaths of Iraqi civilians far exceed what almost anyone expected. And insurgent attacks are growing stronger and more deadly. But, if wars always produce losers, it is also true that most wars have a fair share of winners, too. So, we would like to ask, four years into the fighting, what institutions, countries, ideas, or individuals are better off because of the war? Who, in essence, are Iraq’s winners?

By Vali Nasr

After nearly 25 years of wrestling with Saddam Hussein, Iran’s Shiite rulers have the war to thank for their newfound power.

Moqtada al-Sadr
By Dexter Filkins

How a radical Shiite cleric became the most powerful man in Iraq.

Al Qaeda free registration required
By Daniel Byman


The terrorist network was on life support after September 11—until a new front opened in Baghdad and revived its mission.

Samuel Huntington FP Archive article
By David Frum

The man who envisioned a clash of civilizations looks more prescient than ever.


Arab Dictators
By Marina Ottaway


The Middle East’s strongmen were under pressure to reform. Now, they rest easy.

China FP Archive article
By Steve Tsang

The United States’ missteps in Iraq have given a rising superpower in the East room to grow.

The Price of Oil
FP Archive article
By Bill Emmott

The war in Iraq triggered record oil prices, and the region’s petrostates will enjoy the windfall for years to come.

The United Nations FP Archive article
By Martin Wolf

Suddenly, the global body’s brand of multilateral diplomacy doesn’t look so bad.

Old Europe FP Archive article
By Gianni Riotta

Four years on, Europe’s naysayers are looking wise beyond their years. But can they do any more than sit back and gloat?

Israel FP Archive article
By Amatzia Baram

The war in Iraq eliminated several of Israel’s biggest enemies—even if it made a few new ones along the way.

Plus, a special essay by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on why Iraq is everyone’s war.

Photo credits: AFP/Getty Images; QASSEM ZEIN/AFP/Getty Images; AFP/Getty Images; AFP/Getty Images

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-- Aldous Huxley

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