George Will's column today raises the possibility that Iraq 2005 will repeat France's 1954-62 Algerian War. France, triumphant in 1958, was gone in 1962. He cites the late Librarian of Congress, the great scholar-historian Daniel Boorstin, for an intriguing proposition on violence and disruption. For most of human history those wishing to do damage had to set things in motion--e.g., throw a rock. But modern society depends upon "flow" technologies--e.g., oil refineries, water and electricity, and violence need merely stop their flow. It may, Will says, take a dictatorial government in the mode of Thomas Hobbes to stop what he calls the "deranged Hobbesians" who comprise the insurgency--former regime elements seeking return to power for the sake not of ideology but simply to wield power again.
There is, of course, no way to know if this will develop. A major difference Will acknowledges is that the Iraqi government is not a colonial one. Alas, at present and for the foreseeable future, it is not a strong one, either.
Will: "Battle of Algiers?"