Monday, March 20, 2006

How Do You Say Deja vu the Third Time Over?

There was no way to avoid it this weekend, the beginning of the fourth year of war and occupation of Iraq by the (now) 27-member coalition led by the U.S. In both print and in interviews, top Bush administration figures rhetorically stood shoulder to shoulder: progress continues to be made in Iraq.

It clearly was the echo of three years of the oft-repeated promise by President Bush that America would stand proudly beside all those who aspired for freedom and liberty wherever individuals of such vision emerged.

However, this all-American love-fest struck a sour note when former interim Iraqi prime minister Ayad Allawi, told the British Broadcasting Corporation: “We are losing each day as an average 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is.”

So too, apparently, does General George Casey Jr., the senior military officer in Iraq, who told CNN: “We’re a long way from civil war.”

At issue, it seems, is the definition of “civil war.” While neither a deity nor a general, I would offer the following two options are “a war between different sections or parties of the same country or nation” or, more simply, “a war between factions in and of the same country.”

These definitions don’t seem satisfactory because they fail to define “war.” This used to be a considered “a contest between nations or states carried on by force.” With the 20th century propensity for initiating armed combat without a formal declaration of war, something broader might be better – e.g., “a condition of belligerency maintained by force.”

Putting it all together, “civil war” might be defined as “a condition of armed belligerency between two or more sections or factions with roots in and of the same country.”

That is what we have in Iraq. But, as the frequently quoted but unidentified military expert, F. W. Robertson said, “Men will ever distinguish war from mere bloodshed.”


Blogger Don said...

Civil war is truly in the mind of the beholder and Mr. Bush and his apologists have never been good at distinguishing fact from fiction. They have created their own reality in which they live. Unfortunately for our armed forces they live in a different reality. I would say if this isn't civil war then it will do 'til the real thing comes along.

10:35 PM  

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