Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Wars And Rumors Of Civil Wars

With the numerous slain bodies found in the streets of Baghdad, the explosives that detonate daily, the death squads who operate freely and the sectarian strife that is gripping the capital one has to wonder if this is only a war between Iraq and the United States or if it has become a battle between Iraq and itself.

CNN correspondent Michael Ware, who is on the ground in Baghdad illustrates rather well in the video below that this indeed appears to be a Civil War.

Ware cites that "The debate about whether this is civil war is fueled either by the luxury of distance" or "is fueled by the spin of those with a political agenda to deny its existence."

Ware later states "We now have institutionalized death squads in police uniforms.

You're having Sunni patients pulled out of Shia-controlled hospitals.

You have neighborhoods with fighting positions.

You have districts engaged in mortar wars -- one neighborhood lobbing bombs on another neighborhood and then retaliating.

People carry dual identity cards -- one Sunni, one Shia. Children dare not go to school for fear of crossing ethnic lines. Wolf, if this is not a civil war, then I don't want to see one when it comes. "

Transcript of the above video can be found at CNN.Com.

Civil War Or Sectarian Strife? Is There A Difference?

There has been a persistent argument as of late, and that argument is whether or not Iraq is really in a civil war or not.

Microsoft Encarta defines Civil War as "war within country: a war between opposing groups within a country"

Answers.Com identifies Civil War as "A war between factions or regions of the same country"

Some modern scholars have stated that the definition of Civil War is more than one group or faction within a country competing for political power in a conflict in which over 1,000 people have died.

Dictionaries would produce similar results, so why is there so much argument as to what the Iraq War has now become?

In part I blame doublespeak which has caused us to become confused and unsure of the situation.

After all it wasn't "prisoners of war" we have captured during the war, they are "enemy combatants".

It wasn't "domestic surveillance" when it was spying on tens of millions of ordinary Americans, it is "terrorist surveillance".

At last, most importantly, it wasn't a "civil war" when Shia and Sunni factions were killing each other, it is "sectarian violence". The truth got buried in the manipulative vocabulary.

The only significant difference I can identify that makes Iraq different than other civil wars is that the situation in Iraq was triggered, though not directly caused, by external forces.

In the case of Iraq it seems the actions of invading the country based on the misleading Weapons of Mass Destruction theory, toppling Saddam Hussein and the previous fueds between the factions were conditions ripe for Civil War.

Iraq also had the forceful "help" of "al Qaeda in Iraq" and others to help push it into it's beginning stages of a Civil War with the bombings of the holy shrines and mosques and massacring of civilians.

However, for now we cannot keep arguing over the definition of what a Civil War is or not. We have to address the problem as it is, in all honesty and admit that most likely we are in the beginning of a bloody Civil War in Iraq.

How we handle the conditions on the ground and our effectiveness in assessing and reacting to the situation will ensure our defeat and the collapse of Iraq or our victory and the rebuilding of Iraq.

But the longer we wallow over definitions of words instead of just understanding the plain obvious the harder it is going to be to avert an all out crisis, and by crisis I mean this could easily get worse.