I was going a little nuts earlier today, reading a Guardian article which started with the same old rigmarole question whether the situation in Iraq could now be called a civil war or not. Of course it's a civil war, I thought. Damn it! When are we going to call it what it is?
Of course the White House doesn't want to call the insurgency a civil war. It took long enough for them to even accept "insurgency." Naturally you'll find a pedant or two who'll give you a definition designed to exclude anything but their own pet civil war.
The Times gives us the "common scholarly definition":
...Warring groups must be from the same country and fighting for control of the political center, control over a separatist state or to force a major change in policy... and at least 1,000 people must have been killed in total, with at least 100 from each side.
I'm with the political science professor at Stanford who says “I think that at this time, and for some time now, the level of violence in Iraq meets the definition of civil war that any reasonable person would have.” And I'm with these guys:
Many scholars say the bloodshed here already puts Iraq in the top ranks of the civil wars of the last half-century. The carnage of recent days — beginning with bombings on Thursday in a Shiite district of Baghdad that killed more than 200 people — reinforces their assertion...
...“You need to let the world know there’s a civil war here in Iraq,” said Adel Ibrahim, 44, a sheik in the Subiah tribe, which is mostly Shiite. “It’s a crushing civil war. Mortars kill children in our neighborhoods. We’re afraid to travel anywhere because we’ll be killed in buses. We don’t know who is our enemy and who is our friend.”
“It’s stunning; it should have been called a civil war a long time ago, but now I don’t see how people can avoid calling it a civil war,” said Nicholas Sambanis, a political scientist at Yale who co-edited “Understanding Civil War: Evidence and Analysis,“ published by the World Bank in 2005. “The level of violence is so extreme that it far surpasses most civil wars since 1945.”
Moving on briskly here -- now that we see there's good cause for us to admit we've stirred up a full-fledged, bloody civil war, a total FUBAR, the biggest Bush screw-up of his seven decades on this suffering planet -- what do we do next? Scarper? Pull out? Scram? Cut and run?
Or do we have an obligation to risk more lives in an attempt to save Iraqi lives because we started it?