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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


The Society's Economist has posted to his Blog Not Economics a discussion of a recent article by Alistair Horne, in National Reivew, which compares the Algerian war to Iraq. Like Chris the Economist, I also thought article was very very depressing and seemed on point, at least in the way the article was written. Anyways, I decided to do a little more research on the subject.

The economist writes:

...the Algerian insurgents were not attacking Algerian civilians, but French civilians, who were against them anyway. In Iraq, the insurgents are slaughtering Iraqi civilians (as well as policemen and Iraqi national guard) for a simple reason not analogous to Algeria: the insurgents have popular support only among a geographically distinct minority, the 20% Sunnis. Further, it was pretty clear that French wanted to stay while the Americans want to leave.

I generally agree with the Economist's assesment and would add that there were not just a few Europeans living in Algeria, but over one million. Some European families had been living in Algeria since the mid 1800s! Also, in Algeria, the "Rebels" offered an alternative - independence from France. In fact an election was held in 1962 where approximately 6 million Algerians voted for independence. Furthermore, the Rebels had a government in exile in Tunisia that was recognized as the legitimate government of Algeria by many Arab, Asian, and the Soviet Union.

In Iraq, the "insurgents" offer no alternative other than a return to Saddam, which the people of Iraq have clearly rejected. Further, there is no government in exile for the insurgents. Finally, any election in Iraq is not a vote for independence from anyone, rather it is a vote to legitimize a government that is in opposition to the "insurgents." More facts on the Algerian war can be found here...

It has been a favorite subject for media elites and academics from all sides of the spectrum to find some historical example that could provide us with a road map to Iraq. The comparison to the Algerian war is just another attempt at a comparison. Most often we hear comparisons to Vietnam, which are ludicrous. The only arguable comparison between Iraq and Vietnam are the demographics of the political opposition to the war in America (notably the mainstream media and liberals). All other comparisons fail. A major problem with finding comparisons is that Iraq is simply not a very big war in relative terms to other American wars. It is not big in any relative aspect, not in casualties, men served or resources spent. However, it is big in media coverage, thus it sometimes appears to be a big war for those who consume a lot of news.