live free or die

so..... militias. being an american in the 21st century, i have forgotten what it is like when there is more than one "army." you'd think i'd be familiar with them. america was originally defended by militias. politically, i always assume 1 state vs another = 1 army vs. another, but this is not always the case. i am reading a book called "Five Points," about the infamous new york slum. it's not very good. but it is very thorough. the idea that elections were decided mostly through mob violence may seem a little weird now, but in 19th century irish-american politics, that's how it got done. the candidate with the best bruisers ccontrolled the polling station, thereby allowing only those voting favorably to make it out with all his teeth. and these enforcers were more often than not firemen! the fire brigades were miniature armies, poised to assist politcal bigwigs when it came time to vote. they even scuffled with other brigades to decide which engine company was allowed to put out a fire! speaking of brigades, let's look at iraqi militas. not only are there Coalition of the Willing forces (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2862343.stm), which are multifaceted enough, there are also several armed factions of iraqis. obviously there are Sunni vs. Shiite tensions/divisions throughout the country, but even the Shiite population is split. the Badr Brigade (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badr_Organization), once an outlaw militia, now comprises a majority of the offical Iraqi Army and police force. exiled by Saddam Hussein and forced to flee to Iran, the Badr Brigade is a Shiite army that is extremely pro-Iranian, fighting against Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War ('80-'88). Also in existence is the Mahdi Army, headed by Moqtada al-Sadr, another Shiite milita that formed in 2003 as a response to the American invasion. sorry, occupation. although Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani has brokered an uneasy truce between the US and the Mahdi armies, the made headlines today with some serious clashes (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5293278.stm). apparently, this is a result of ANOTHER militia being formed from the Mahdi faction, opposing al-Sadr's participation in the Coalition government. even the insurgents are splintered into militias. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a figurehead of foreign insurgents, but considered an interloper by Baathists, the Mahdi, and other Iraqi insurgents. what about militias in other parts of the world? you may ask. let's see: the janjaweed (http://savedarfur.org/) the IRA (http://www.sinnfein.ie/) and, most notoriously right now, Hezbollah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hezbollah) "There is a violence that liberates, and a violence that enslaves; there is a violence that is moral and a violence that is immoral" - Benito Mussolini what?

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