It was a rape (perpetrated on the Rohingya side) that set off this escalated vendetta. In a healthier society, imho, or one with an active and responsive government, a crime is a crime and not only treated with our kit of measures rapidly advanced in the common — investigation, arrest, trial, etc.– but protected from public emotion too: no lynching. However . . . that’s civilization.
The wild is different, and Burma has been that for a long time.
I tend to view the conflict as tribal warfare conflated with religious animus, but perhaps that’s the way I would rather feel.
In that the Central African Republic has been experiencing similar tribal driven warfare with a distinctly religious cast, the phenomenon becomes a template or pattern.
It doesn’t matter that most on either side would rather not be bothered, for the character of the fighting is never confined to fighters or consigned to politics: what starts as a dent in community relations becomes a hairline crack, a fissure, and as atrocity escalates, a fracture, a Great Divide.
There may be “hidden hands” in setting one against another (certainly, the images I posted from the Rohingya experience were compelling and visceral — and I’ve since removed them from display on my blog); there may be great wealth in the offing, no pun intended; but that the center does not hold in any of the Islamic Small Wars may tell something about the character of the places involved (I like to note that Assad had an army and al-Nusra et al were armies of a sort, but the main constituency of Syria had NOTHING for its defense from any violent actor) and the character of the process that heightens long-overlooked differences in communities and moves from incident (all are like blasting caps in these wars) to feud to open conflict to genocidal putsch. To arrest that process, it has to be stopped in the “mouth-ear-mind-heart system” all around. That might take place if the “mild, moderate, and middle” (I’ve a lot of tropes for this stuff) can get its act together and restore civil society (that’s Iraq’s Sunni-Shiite-in-it-together challenge today), but if they can’t, it gets worse x distribution x intensity x sadism.
In the 20th Century, generals and politicians certainly understood bad mouthing, pushing and shoving, dirty tricks, and ambush (and blitzkrieg); in this one, I’m not sure whether those being swept up into animus- and conflict-producing processes understand how they are being manipulated to increase their own tendency toward violence and decrease their ability to observe, reason, and weigh essential criminal acts.
Whether it starts with the massive lying generated by Hamas and the increasingly and morally lost “Palestinian Cause” or a few words over the radio in Rwanda, the pathway — etiological, just like disease — becomes clear, and the wholesale destruction of the innocent plus whatever comprises humanity within the perpetrators (what do you think of Bashar al-Assad now?) is where it ends.
With a hazy sense of the conflict, I mentioned as analog the fighting in the Central African Republic. Conveniently found in the web (this kind of look-up takes less than four seconds, and the keyboard operator uses up 3.5 second or so of those):
“Ndele isn’t far away” is the wishful name of a small Islamic shop selling prayer beads and copies of the Koran in Miskine, a bustling district in the Central African Republic’s capital Bangui. Ndele, in the country’s north, some 650 kilometers (400 miles) from Bangui, was the first city captured by the Seleka, an alliance of various Muslim rebel groups. In March, they marched into the capital, overthrowing the government.
Miskine has traditionally been the Muslim district in the predominantly Catholic capital. Before the coup, Muslims used to live in peace alongside Christians, with their giant mosque standing alongside three churches. Today, it is the scene of a civil war, with Christian militias fighting to the death in an attempt to drive out the Muslim rebels.
On the other hand, if you think you have looked at (or into) something, look again:
Djotodia was the first Muslim leader of the mostly Christian CAR − Muslims account for approximately 15% of the population − and the Séléka mostly comprised of Muslims from the north, though bolstered by some Chadian and Sudanese mercenaries.
Under Djotodia, the Séléka engaged in looting, rape, and murder of civilians. In response, various communities formed self-protection brigades. These so-called anti-balaka forces are believed to be mostly Christian, but their origins and leadership are largely unknown − some speculate that former president Bozizé and his supporters control more than half the forces.
For BackChannels, I suggest the Islamic Small Wars (well, Islam’s the world that’s hosting or involved in most of the open conflict and conflict-drive on the planet at the moment) have to do with personality (of dictators — and the psychology of dictatorship distilled, somewhat, to “malignant narcissism“). The way that works, however, may be akin to how a part of Hollywood works: the place needs showoffs! It breeds them, draws them, encourages them (I’ve rather been one of them myself in spirit).
And in Hollywood, it’s not so bad.
Mel Gibson may do some damage, but compared to, say Russia’s President Putin or Syria’s Bashar al-Assad (or “the dictator Putin-Assad-Khamenei”), Mel’s okeydokey with just about whatever he does.
In other realms, one might get a flamboyant but egalitarian, just, and thoughtful president – or a tyrannical king.
This theme, small time thug to mafia don to president of a nuclear state, runs all the way up and down the line. Where it doesn’t, where it won’t work, is where something central in the character of the humanity of the place — or the surrounding humanity if “containment has become an objective — keeps it caged and makes it smaller.
Until it’s gone.
And elected lawmakers, disciplined police, and open courts remain to handle the leftovers of their societies’ violent fringes.
It may just be me who sees personality and psychological issues where others see political ones, often related to resources; nonetheless, I would submit that while the wealth in the ground or in the labor may be a prize, the malignant have interest in the control of others in the process of dealing themselves “narcissistic supply” — they’re not playing just for gold or oil or their political survival or the welfare of their people: they’re out to steal the dignity, freedom, and good spirit of their adversaries, and those — that’s the whole world (whether it likes it or not).
That kind of poisoned drive destroys communities and deadens the souls across which it sweeps its black angel’s wings.
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