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Charlotte_native

Iraqi Civil War

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News agencies are finally calling the "conflict" in Iraq what it is and has been for quite some time: Civil War.

Though our administration immediately has gone on a spin campaign to deny this, the obvious is now being reported honestly. The top news agencies (though for some reason I suspect Fox will opt out) are now slowly, and some openly, calling killings and violence in Iraq as part of a great civil war. Generals, leaders from other countries, and anyone with eyes and a brain has been doing this for months since every definition of civil war describes this conflict.

What will this do to the spin machine in Washington? If "civil war" catches and we become more open and honest about the situation there, what effect will this have overall?

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To me the definition of Civil War is when two or more factions cause war with the goal of either conquering the other factions and installing themselves in power or forming their own independent nation. I don't think either the Shias or the Sunnis want to split up the country (that is more a Kurdish desire), and I don't think the Sunnis are trying to gain total control of the government again.

The bloodshed in Iraq is due to fringe groups with no hope to come to power or form a separate nation, but whose goal is to create chaos, in Iraq and the Middle East, and simple destruction. And hurt the US in the process, which is working beautifully. This is the ideology of terrorism. Technically, it is not Civil War, it is something more sinister.

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What will this do to the spin machine in Washington? If "civil war" catches and we become more open and honest about the situation there, what effect will this have overall?

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Interesting. Everything I have read sees this completely differently. There are two parties fighting for political control. There are plenty of folks in Iraq and outside Iraq discussing partitioning of the country. There are armed and organized fighting forces actively fighting each other. This is certainly by all definitions written before this conflict to be a civil war.

The Sunnis and Shia are certainly fighting to be in control of the country -- they aren't just killing each other for fun. They have been at odds with each other for centuries and the boundaries of Iraq and Iran our British lines drawn after the colonial years. Up until only a decade or so ago Iran and Iraq were in open war -- this was essentially a Shia / Sunni conflict as well. To try and pretend that all this happened because of Al Queda ignores an awful lot of history (which seems to be what we did, ignore history, when entering this war).

We didn't start this civil war, but we created the environment that made it possible and inflamed it.

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The bloodshed in Iraq is due to fringe groups with no hope to come to power or form a separate nation, but whose goal is to create chaos, in Iraq and the Middle East, and simple destruction.

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I suppose it would be naive to say the major parties are not involved in the groups patrolling as death squads and suicide bombers, but nominally it is not the mainline parties that have won election to Iraq's new government that are out fighting for control of the country, if they were the sham government would have been dissolved for outright warfare. It remains fringe groups committing the killings, not the vast majority of the Shias or Sunnis. I am not denying the warlike conditions over there, just saying that Civil War is not what I'd call it. That is not to be likened to Bush's arguments why it is not a civil war - I think it is worse than civil war.

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I will point out the Bush Administration loves to talk about the "War on Terror" which is a war on an emotion, and then denies there is a civil war in Iraq due to semantics on what constitutes a war.

Websters defines Civil War as...

a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country

It does not specify any other conditions.

Websters defines War as .....

a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end

Based on this, there is a civil war going on in Iraq. However this is losing focus on the fact that thousands are being killed in that country every month and the numbers continue to rise.

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...nominally it is not the mainline parties that have won election to Iraq's new government that are out fighting for control of the country, if they were the sham government would have been dissolved for outright warfare.

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The American Civil War ran for almost exactly 4 years or 48 months. During this period 203,000 people were directly killed by hostilities. This works out to 4229 dead/month for the American Civil War.

It has been 44 months since GW Bush attacked Iraq and 42 months since GW Bush stood on the aircraft carrier under a huge banner saying "mission accomplished".

Some estimates place the number of dead Iraqis since GW Bush attacked that nation as high as 650,000. This works out to 15,476/month.

Last month 3700 Iraqis were killed along with 140 or so Americans which is close to 4000/month. However consider that if we only had the medical technology that was available to the people who fought the American Civil War, then the dead would be far far higher.

I think by this measure Iraq is definitely in a Civil War.

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It may be a western bias I have, but I do not see this as a civil war. There is little to the goals of the groups carrying out the atrocities - other than a complete breakdown of the system and a populace in utter fear. The 4000 lives/month lost in the American civil war were for obvious, clear cut goals with well defined sides to be on. There was an element of random cruelty to be sure - arm people and watch human nature in action - but a small one. In Iraq it is nothing but random cruelty, as opposed to something that people can define and join or oppose. In Vietnam everyone knew which side was which and what the goals were. Iraq is more like what is seen in certain African countries - we sometimes call those Civil Wars for lack of a better term, but they do not possess the humanity to warrant either the term "civil" or "war", but are really just mass murder, or genocide.

I do agree we have propped up what is essentially a paper government in Iraq that wouldn't last long in our absence, but were it to collapse tomorrow, I seriously doubt the death squads would suddenly pause to poster the sides of buildings and streetlamps with their platforms, goals and agendas. It would remain senseless killing meant to destroy a place completely, and leaving nothing out of which to form a country when the dust finally settles. The "civil" in civil war is to denote a domestic war of it's citizenry, there is almost certainly a large foreign element to the death squads as well as trained terrorists, and is not yet a war of the masses, the citizenry, and is why confusion and chaos reign. These are arguments based in semantics, so I will add the obligatory 'this is my opinion'.

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^What were the clear cut goals of the American Civil War? Don't say slavery because that definitely was not it.

BTW, Vietnam was definitely not a civil war as that was two sovereign nations fighting each other.

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^ To remain a part of the union or to not was the pivotal position of the American Civil War, and a choice easily understood by everyone (not saying the choice itself was easy, just what the choice was that was causing the war). Though since you mention slavery - it is an example of a definable thing that one can make a clear choice on. It is a reason for war. Iraq's citizens have no side to choose, they are killed without recourse or part to play in the affair.

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I do agree we have propped up what is essentially a paper government in Iraq that wouldn't last long in our absence, but were it to collapse tomorrow, I seriously doubt the death squads would suddenly pause to poster the sides of buildings and streetlamps with their platforms, goals and agendas. It would remain senseless killing meant to destroy a place completely, and leaving nothing out of which to form a country when the dust finally settles.

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^That is genocide (based on race or religion), not civil war, and is also not very accurate because it implies a country divided across a line ready to war over competing visions. The vast majority of Sunnis and Shias just want to live peacefully with their neighbors, and could care less about the minor racial or religious distinctions there. No one is going to join a cause whose goal is destruction, so the factions at this point are nothing but a bane to the Iraqi citizen, not sides in a civil war.

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^That is genocide (based on race or religion), not civil war, and is also not very accurate because it implies a country divided across a line ready to war over competing visions. The vast majority of Sunnis and Shias just want to live peacefully with their neighbors, and could care less about the minor racial or religious distinctions there. No one is going to join a cause whose goal is destruction, so the factions at this point are nothing but a bane to the Iraqi citizen, not sides in a civil war.

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^ To remain a part of the union or to not was the pivotal position of the American Civil War, and a choice easily understood by everyone (not saying the choice itself was easy, just what the choice was that was causing the war). Though since you mention slavery - it is an example of a definable thing that one can make a clear choice on. It is a reason for war. Iraq's citizens have no side to choose, they are killed without recourse or part to play in the affair.

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What is this---the Emperor has on no clothes?

Gosh, this has looked like a civil war to me for a loooooooooong time!

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Likewise, the vast majority of Northerners and Southerners just wanted to live in peace in the American civil war. How many Southern cities saw wholesale destruction in that conflict?

For neither side is destruction the goal. Both sides want control of the country. There is an intense hatred between Sunni and Shia muslims, in Iraq and elsewhere, going back for generations. Neither side wants to share power with the other. That is what the war is about.

We're obviously working with two different ideas of what constitutes a civil war. Above, you defined the term as follows: What about the Iraq conflict excludes it from that definition?

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..... And could make such a choice. It is genocide when you cannot choose, especially if because of race or religion. And the war in Iraq is not yet a war of it's citizenry, but of predators..... Whether I argue semantics all night here, one thing remains - if we do decide to just leave this mess, things will go to hell and quickly turn into a war involving most of it's citizenry. About that Bush is right, the fact that this is all his fault is now moot.

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Another distinction between Iraq and other recent civil wars such as those in the US, Vietnam, or Spain is that Iraq was never a unified country. It was a factionalized creation whose borders were defined by the west. Iraq is better compared to African nations, than to nation states such as in Europe.

War is almost inevitable, because the people living there never decided for themselves, which groups could live together in peace, and who gets what land. You are seeing now the unfinished business of 1918 when Iraq's borders were set.

Remember Yugoslavia? That is Iraq's future. It will break up into autonomous states, or perhaps be re-united under another "strongman", such as Milosovich had tried to do from Serbia.

Interesting too, the parallel that Yugoslavia was another concocted country built from the spoils of WWI...

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While Turkey doesn't want an independent Kurdistan, they also desperately want to join the EU. Getting involved in this mess in Iraq would certainly dash those plans. Most of western Europe (Rumsfield's Old Europe) is quite happy they were proven right about the WMDs and the fact the inspectors and the UN should have been the ones to resolve these issues in Iraq and not unilateral USA military might. Turkey will protect it's borders, but they will not invade Iraq.

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Not so much the external issues that would cause Turkey to go to war, but the fact that Kurds living inside their country are already unruly, and would force the issue from this repsect. This is assuming Turkey's Kurds would attempt to join a Kurdish nation formed out of Northern Iraq, but I think this assumption is a sound one. Turkey would have little choice but to respond.

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None expected.

Splitting Iraq was never on the table, though is exactly what the Kurds have wanted. Perhaps if they remain patient, who knows, though really it won't be allowed to happen as splitting oil and other resources and moving people in masse isn't going to be possible there. War would really be in full force, and would probably draw Iran and other countries into it as old boundaries and ethnic/religious connections might make annexation attractive. Turkey, arguably our closest Muslim(ish) ally in the region, would probably go to war over the splitting of Iraq issue as well.

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Well, the Union may not have been fighting the Civil War to end slavery (at first), but the Confederate States were certainly fighting it to preserve slavery. It's evident in the writings of the soldiers and in The Cornerstone Speech. Everyone knew Lincoln's position on slavery and when he won the election that was it.

I do think what's happening in Iraq is a Civil War. Much like our Civil War the majority of people probably do not want it---but just like our Civil War, that majority will take up arms to preserve their culture. It's human nature and it's happening right now over there. This is a Civil War.

But what's the solution? Do we split the country up like some of the Democrats say? What happens to Baghdad? Who get's the oil? What is to stop Syria and Iran from coming in and "helping out" certain groups?

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