There is much to recommend in Joost Hiltermann’s article in The New York Review of Books about the daunting challenges that may yet lead to Iraq’s unraveling. Money quote from a Western aid worker living in Baghdad’s “red zone”:
Some four hundred to five hundred people are killed per month. Compared to other countries, this is extremely high, but here, that’s quite good. There is a feeling things are almost normal. Bombs are going off all the time, but we could call it a ‘banalization’ of violence: people sitting in one room no longer pay attention to the bomb going off next door, so to speak.
I’ve heard it called “residual violence” and “the irreducible minimum”, but never banal. The brutalising impact, of course, remains just as deadly as ever. As long as the madness continues, the nation will not heal. Hence, it’s not so much a question of why the Arabs and the Kurds would go to war as it is of why the hell not.