March 29, 2007

SLUMS RULED BY MILITIAS: It’s a quagmire! Pull out!

Oh, wait, it’s in Rio de Janeiro. As someone with family in Nigeria, it’s been clear to me that some — not all — of Iraq’s problems are unfortunately typical of third world countries with weak social contracts, and will likely persist regardless of how the war goes. That’s not to say that Baghdad is no worse than, say, Lagos — but in Lagos, armed criminal gangs, kidnappings, murder, etc. are shockingly common and uncontrolled. And in Nigeria’s Delta region there’s basically guerrilla war over oil already. Sadly, Iraq probably already has a better government and military than Nigeria, so that if the insurgency ended tomorrow Baghdad would probably be better than Lagos. Heck, it might be as good as Rio. But it wouldn’t be as good as even a badly-governed, gang-infested, crime-ridden American city like, say, Washington, DC.

Via The Belmont Club, which observes: “One way to recognize a failing state is to examine the extent to which its cities are subdividing into gated communities. “