Iraq: Civil War? Insurgency? Sectarian Violence?
Not A Civil War
The Washington Note is providing us with an overview of the propaganda campaign led by The Cheney-led Civil War-Deniers to try to convince us that indeed what's going on in Iraq is not a civil war but just examples of honest disagreements between a few alpha males taking place in Liberated/Free/Democratic/New Iraq. The most pathetic example of these efforts that don't seem to affect the majority of the American people has been the series of dispatches from Iraq by Ralph Peters that seem to suggest that, well, forget Provence and Tuscany; choose Iraq as your next vacation destination. Well, if it looks like a civil war, and if it sounds like a civil war, it's a Civil War. That at least is the conclusions of two former U.S. intelligence guys. Larry Johnson in Smells Like Civil War? explains and illustrates:
Is there a civil war in Iraq? Let's imagine that the events, which happened on Sunday, March 12, 2006 in and around Baghdad, occur tomorrow in and around New York City. The only thing I've changed are the place names. The events are real. Would we put up for a minute with President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld idly dismissing these events as mere sectarian strife?
03/14/06 AP: A roadside bomb hit a police convoy in White Plains, New York, 35 miles northeast of New York City, killing one patrolman and wounding four others, police said
03/14/06 AP: U.S. forces also clashed with gunmen Sunday afternoon in western New York City, Interior Ministry Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said.
03/14/06 AP: In Newark, about 20 miles south of New York City, gunmen ambushed and killed a police major as he headed to work, police said.
03/14/06 Eight bodies were found with their hands tied and gun shot wounds to the head in Brooklyn, a suburb in eastern New York City, police said.
03/1406 Reuters: Gunmen ambushed and killed a local football player (Vinny Testaverde) in Elizabeth City 40 km (25 miles) south of New York City, local police said.
03/14/06 Reuters: At least 40 people were killed and 95 wounded in three apparently coordinated car bombs at two markets in the Jewish section of Brooklyn on Sunday, police said.
If it looks like a civil war, sounds like a civil war, and has casualties like a civil war it is probably a civil war. Now, imagine that these kinds of attacks continue to be the daily routine for the next thirty days (as it has in Baghdad for the last month). How would this effect the lifestyle of the average New Yorker? Do you think George Bush would still enjoy 37% favorable rating.
My point is this, until we understand what is happening in Iraq in terms of what those events would mean if they happened in the United States, we are living with the delusion that Iraq's troubles are caused by grumpy reporters who just want to focus on the negative.
And here is Pat Lang trying to explain that Insurgency=Sectarian Violence=Civil War:
There is an attempt being made at present to distinguish between the two terms in the title of this post.
Without clarifying the difference it is simply asserted that Shia-Sunni fighting is one thing one thing and that the "insurgency" is another. This is an assertion of a distinction without a difference.
The "insurgencies" in Iraq are variously:
-international jihadis who are all Sunni Muslims.
-local Iraqi Islamists (all Sunni Arabs)
-Tribals (Sunni Arabs)
-De-mobilized soldiers (overwhelmingly Sunni Arabs)
-Nationalists and Baathists (some Sunni Arabs and some secular Shia)
What are all these groups fighting for? With the exception of the "Nationalists and Baathists" who want to see the restoration of a secular and unitary state, the rest of them want to see the maintenance of the previous (a thousand years) disproportionate political power of Sunni Arab Muslims in Iraq. The international jihadis would express this as a desire for Sunni Muslim control without a focus on the Arab part of the identity.
What is different in the present "sectarian violence?" The Shia have now reciprocated in doing violence to their sectarian enemies.
That is the difference.