How Do You Say Deja vu the Third Time Over?
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.”