Civil War in Iraq?

Filed in Gather Politics News Channel by on November 27, 2006 0 Comments
dictionary.comcivil war:a war between political factions or regions within the same country.


This morning on the Today Show. There was an announcement that NBC has decided to call the internal strife in Iraq a civil war. This is, as they pointed out, not what the governments of either the US or Iraq wants to label it.

Their rationale for calling it a Civil War is as follows:

  1. Use of massive violence to gain political supremecy
  2. A Struggle between 3 factions (Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds) within one country
  3. A government unable to control the violence and protect its civilians

A former general in the army adds that there are also the following issues:

  1. A foreign jihadist element in the country
  2. A weak and corrupt central government

Their presence, he suggested, although neither central to the definition of a civil war nor unrelated to the conflicts, do not mean that the civil war is not taking place. The main thrust of the fighting, in his analysis, is for control of the society.

The White House says the violence is isolated around Bagdhad and will be contained when Iraqi troops are better trained.  The lack of country-side violence means that it is not a civil war, but a regional conflict.

The violence does seem to be spread around all the major cities, however, anywhere where there are two or more of these groups living near each other.  Lauer pointed out that the only way that civil wars have ended in the past is through division of a country or the military trumping of one group by another.

Perhaps this explains the reluctance by the administration to call it a civil war; they are hoping that they can still negotiate the differences among the groups rather than back one group over another. The situation, form the outside, seems intractable as each group has representation in the government and uses their particular influence to further their ethnic or regional cause rather than the cause of Iraq as a country. If we call it a civil war, it also seems that it would weaken the current position that Iraq is really a battle between folks that want a democracy and terrorists.

Is this a civil war? If it is, do we have a place there? What does “winning” the war in Iraq mean if it is primarily an internal conflict?  Interesting questions prompted by a semantic shift.

About the Author ()

An east-coaster currently trapped in the Midwest.

Leave a Reply