PDF Tribute of Iraq Articles for Aaron Swartz

by Reidar Visser

I can easily sympathise with the outpouring of support for Aaron Swartz who took his own life this weekend after having faced the prospects of decades in jail in the United States for his computer hacking activity.

In the first place, Swartz championed academic freedom and specifically open access. He criticised the system whereby journal publishers make good money from institutional subscriptions to academic journals, whereas the authors who write the articles never earn anything, and the students who need the articles often face difficulty in getting access to them on a reasonable budget. The whole business of academic publishing has in many ways  become farcical, with the supposed gold standard of “double-blind peer review” often nothing more than barely disguised camaraderie.

Second, Swartz was a victim of prosecutorial overreach and law enforcement agencies abandoning entirely the principle of proportionality in responding to a perceived problem. For a hacking crime that has been described as the equivalent of checking too many books out of the library, Swartz was facing the prospects of decades in jail and enormous fines. Once more, one senses that the advocates of openness are the ones that are being systematically targeted by the prosecution, whereas crimes on the part of emerging big brother governments are systematically ignored or even encouraged.

We can only hope that Swartz’s tragedy will prompt governments around the world to rethink their current tendency of bullying, persecuting and prosecuting academics who refuse to follow the mainstream. With respect to my own case of law enforcement overreach, I hope the Norwegian government will abandon their 2-year long fascistic witch-hunt directed against me: Since February 2011, the they have deprived me of my most basic human rights in an ill-conceived international police operation intended as punishment for perfectly legal street photography for an academic project.

Thanks to the totalitarian tactics of the Oslo police, I was forced to leave my native land in a hurry and never got the opportunity to bring with me my Iraq materials. In solidarity with Swartz and the PDFtribute project, I will nonetheless take this opportunity to put online at least some of those Iraq articles that I have got copies of. My hope is that this tiny gesture will help put focus on the inhumane character of the war on academics that so-called Western liberal  governments prosecute, in the United States and Norway alike.

“Policing a Messy Federation: The Role of the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court, 2005-2010”, pp. 12-18 in Orient vol. 52 no. 2, 2011

“The territorial aspect of sectarianism in Iraq”, pp. 295-305 in IJCIS, vol. 4 no. 3, 2010

“The Kurdish Issue in Iraq: A View from Baghdad at the Close of the Maliki Premiership”, The Fletcher Forum, vol. 34, no. 1, 2010, pp. 77-94

“Proto-political conceptions of ‘Iraq’ in late Ottoman times”, IJCIS, vol. 3 no. 2, 2009, pp. 143-154

“Historical Myths of a Divided Iraq”, Survival, vol. 50 no. 2, 2008, pp. 95-106

“Ethnicity, Federalism and the Idea of Sectarian Citizenship in Iraq”, in IRRC, vol. 89 no. 868, 2007, pp. 809-22

These are just a few of my Iraq journal articles. If someone has copies of other of my articles and wants to share them here, please forward them to me at reidarvisser (at) gmail.com and I will upload them.