The Sunni-Shia conflict: correlation of power

Brian M Downing  Hostility between the Sunni and Shia sects began in the seventh century as a fight over succession to leadership of the Islamic world. Was it to be descendants of the Prophet or his generals? The issue was settled, more or less, when the generals defeated Ali’s forces Read More …

The coming battle for Raqqa – and the future of Iraq and Syria

The coming battle for Raqqa – and the future of Iraq and Syria  Brian M Downing  Iraqi and Kurdish troops are on the outskirts of Mosul, ISIL’s prized holding in Iraq. The battle will be long and costly and will entail a slew of political complications involving various foreign powers, especially the Read More …

Modern War and the Decline of the Old Regime, 1763-1856 by Brian M Downing

Modern War and the Decline of the Old Regime, 1763-1856 © 2001 Brian M. Downing The basis of democratization is everywhere purely military in character. . . .  Military discipline meant the triumph of democracy because the community wished and was compelled to secure the cooperation of the non-aristocratic masses Read More …

Analysis: Women and the wars in the Middle East

The world wars of the last century brought new heights of savagery and destruction. They also brought significant advances for women, who entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers and produced the armaments used on most fronts. Some women served near those fronts. After the wars, in victorious countries, discontent with traditional roles Read More …