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So if it's not a civil war?

The linked blog post, as useless as it is, points to an interesting article that splits the definition of civil war into (overly specific? arbitrary?) components and finds that what is happening in Iraq right now is not technically a civil war. I am not a military historian and won't pick apart the article, if anyone wants to, please feel free. I have some issues with the arbitariness of some of the stipulations, but that is not what I'm really interested in, and I'm not really qualified to comment on anyway. Two things about this terse little post and the article do interest me, however.

First, if Iraq is not in a civil war, what the hell is it?

And two, why is it important what it is called? Is this merely a semantic argument, or is there more at stake? Is it because civil war sounds nastier than insurgency? Is it because of how the terms play in the media? Is it because Iyad Allawi has said it is a civil war? If not a civil war now, might it soon be?

Is this another case of the optimism of the right - "oh, I reallyreallyreally hope it's not going to be a civil war."

The poster, whose blog is linked through the Blogging Tories, didn't explain why the article was important to him/her, and I have to wonder. Their only comment is "This is a great read for those who think Iraq is in the (sic) state of civil war", which doesn't say much, but implies its importance. Like "ha, I've won the argument and here's proof".

Okay, I'll bite - what's your point?

I wonder why a Lib blogger reads through useless blogs especially tory ones though


a year ago, MSM wanted to tell us that the Iraqi conflict is just like the Vietnam conflict and it is a quagmire for the US and coalition forces and now that they failed to make us believe their stupid notion of Vietnam like Iraq, they are again trying hard to make us believe there is a civil war going on in Iraq

They'll fail soon again...

Which Mainstream Media would that be, Winston - Fox News? The National Post? The Sun Chain of Papers? Oh yeah, left wing demigogues all. Actually, the Iraq/Vietnam comparison goes back a hell of a lot longer than a year - if you're going to spew shit, at least make the effort to get off your ass and make it informed shit. And furthermore, most of the people calling it a civil war are Iraqi bloggers - but don't you worry, Winston - what would they know compared to you, after all they just happen to be living there.

One further point - Punctiation and Grammar, try using them will you? Writing like someone who failed Grade VI English isn't the best way to impress me with the brilliance of your logic.

Oh and by the way, Winston - can you point to the exact point in Kev's post where he called the Tory Blogs "useless", cause I can't find it? Let's try and be a bit more accurate in our little ignorant rants, hmmm?

my apologies, Kev didn't say the blog was useless - he said the post was. Which I'll agree with, obviously you didn't bother to read the article you linked - because it does make the point that there are armed conflicts within Iraqi society - his only quibble is that it's not a civil war because it's between four groups instead of 2, which is pointless because all it's doing is arguing technicalities.


I read all kinds of stuff, useless and not. As for the "they" in your post, as Dan asks, who specifically? Unless of course you're one of those "liberal media" conspiracy theorists, I'm not sure who you refer to. There is no such thing as "the" MSM - the media has a very wide range of views, many of which are contradictory.

My quarrel with your post is that it makes not obvious point, hence useless. Though now that I write this, it is not altogether useless because it did point me to the Taheri article, which was an interesting read.

My questions stand though, if Iraq is not in or verging on civil war, what do we call it then? And since you obviously have a strong need to give it a name, explain to me why it's so important to do so.

And since you brought it up, what makes it so qualitatively different than Vietnam?

Or would you like to just rant like a paranoid about "the MSM" some more?

Hope this won't be taken as off-topic, because I'm going to talk about Amir Taheri's article.

He seems to be trying very hard to hair-split his way out of admitting it's a civil war. First he identifies various wars (kev, his history seems accurate enough) that have been regarded as civil wars and shows us how they are really better off called secessionist wars, religious wars, etc. Near the end it's clear he realized he was making a good case for calling the Iraq situation a war of some kind, and quickly backpedalled into calling it a "conflict".

As noted by Dan, he also tries to limit a civil war to a conflict with only two sides, which seems awfully arbitrary. What about the War of the Three Henrys (medieval France, I think)? Insisting that the two sides have to be roughly equal in size and capabilities also seems like nit-picking; by that token, you'd have to find a different term for almost every war ever fought, since usually one side is "bigger" (whatever that means) than the other -- add up the numbers for Germany + Italy + Romania + Hungary + Japan + Finland versus Russia + Commonwealth + Rest of Europe + USA + Remainder of World and you'll see the Axis were outnumbered, out-manufactured, and eventually out-gunned.

I guess for Taheri the worst thing at this point would be to admit that Iraq is in the middle of a civil war, and he's trying to pre-emptively capture the framing. But it sounds like whistling past the graveyard to me.

Like your blog, by the way.

North of 49,

Thanks for the compliment and the comments.

The comments were not off-topic at all, I was hoping that someone with a better knowledge of military history than I would be able to step in and expand on the article. In my mind whether or not a war or conflict occurs between two equal-sized factions or whether it is ethnic and religious based rather than purely political does seem to be splitting hairs, but he didn't seem to me to be totally off base.

I have noticed since Allawi mentioned the term "civil war" that it has been picked up by many news agencies. I wonder if the neocons are bristling because it has a "spinning out of control" feel to it that a term like "insurgency" doesn't have. "Insurgency" seems to implie resistance to an inevitable conclusion (a la Rumsfeld's "dead-enders"), whereas "civil war" means that you really have lost control.

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