Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Iraq's Civil War: Finally We Say It

civil war (noun)
1. A war between factions or regions of the same country.
2. A state of hostility or conflict between elements within an organization

The national media has took it upon themselves to do something that our own government is refusing to do. The violence in Iraq clearly fits the above definition of "civil war" and should be reported as such. It is good to see that media outlets are taking this initiative and going ahead with this. There is probably privately announced pressure on the media to stop calling the Iraq situation a civil war, but at the moment it is being ignored. A real victory for freedom of press.
According to one editor's opinion, "the utter chaos and carnage of the past week has finally convinced some to use 'civil war' without apology." And with the violence increasing everyday, there is no need to apologize for telling the truth. Last night, NBC News became the latest media outlet to call this a civil war. In an explanation given by Brian Williams on the nightly news cast NBC said, "the violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims combined with the government's inability to quell the strife fit the definition of civil war." And that is absolutely correct. These are warring factions. They were not at war before this conflict began and now they are. The finger of blame is pointed squarely are the upsetting of the region and the destruction of Iraq's once stable government before the US invasion.
But the White House doesn't think so. As of yet, the Bush administration is not changing course in their words on the Iraq situation. They are, in fact, refusing to call this a civil war. In a press conference, Tony Snow said, "What you do have is sectarian violence that seems to be less aimed at gaining full control over an area than expressing differences, and also trying to destabilize a democracy -- which is different than a civil war, where two sides are clashing for territory and supremacy." But the fact of the matter is, that Snow is flat wrong. Using the word "sectarian" at all refers to civil war. And clearly those fighting want control of something. They want control of a town or region in Iraq. They want control of the country. Snow's misguided statement shows the ignorance of the Bush White House on matters of history and this current conflict.
However it is phrased, the situation in Iraq is a terrible one. No end is in site for the people trying to live their lives in that country. Each day many wake to the sounds of explosions and death. They are living in utter chaos. The future of their very existence as a people hangs in the balance. Is it a civil war? Of course it is. What can we do about it? As far as I can see, the only thing we can do is let it run its course and hope it doesn't turn from civil war to genocide.

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