Pink Floyd’s Hallucinogenic Baghdad Panoptic

Or, Bentham meets Sadr. Bryan Finoki’s got another fascinating post at Subtopia on the spatial dynamics of conflict in the built environment. This one cites a New York Times piece on the wall being built across Sadr City in Baghdad, describing it as the new "stage for perpetual war", a locus of violence in the area. "This was hardly unseen as the likely outcome," he writes. "After all, what else do these types of massive blast wall installations serve in the end but vertical stages for war?" A few publications in recent years have dealt with the idea of "good fences make good neighbors" approach to wall building and security. This is an interesting perspective. Finoki:

In some ways, the strategy of the wall seems much like the strategy of Iraq itself. It was a way to draw the fight to a specific location, thereby, in a chaotic sort of way, controlling its geography. Though the stated purpose of the Sadr Wall is to create a safe haven, of course everyone knew it was going to in the end facilitate full scale conflict there. Maybe safety zones are less the intent than using the wall as a magnet for fighting instead, creating safety zones elsewhere in the process?

Who knows, I have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m hardly a military strategist. But maybe the area of the wall seems to be achieving what the Americans had hoped, not a safety zone but rather a new battlefield drawn into the light.

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