28 November 2006
Why the Americans refuse to face up to their Iraqi reality
Why won't the Americans admit that Iraqis are fighting a civil war, as well as an anti-imperialist one?
Most wars of national independence are also civil wars. The problem is that few people ever want to admit to that fact. Take the American War of Independence as a case in point, because it could also be called The First American Civil War. About a quarter of the white, male population - some 250,000 men - opposed independence in the 1770s. Some 19,000 of them joined the loyalist regiments that fought to keep the 13 colonies in the empire.
Political scientists have a fairly simple definition of what a civil war is: the conflict must be within one territory, and involve fighting for control of the centre, to seceed from it, or to force the central government to change a major policy. Secondly, at least 1,000 people must have been killed, with at least a 100 on both or all sides. Using that yardstick, Iraq is clearly involved in a civil war that runs in tandem with its war to expell the foreign occupiers.
The American media has just woken up to this fact and has started calling the intra-Iraqi conflict a civil war. So why is the White House denying it?
One possible reason is that "many politicians, especially those who support the war, believe there would be domestic political implications to declaring it a civil war. They fear that an acknowledgment by the White House and its allies would be seen as an admission of a failure of President Bush’s Iraq policy."
Put another way, the chimp will not allow the words "civil war" to cross his lips because to admit to that reality would make his failed Iraqi adventure seem even more of a failure.
Is that about the size of it?