Tuesday, March 07, 2006

As I have suspected

since the bombing of the shrine in Samarra: whether or not Iraq is in a "civil war" depends entirely on who you ask.

ReddHedd gathers the statements so you don't have to. But here's the question I've been asking, over and over again: "When is a "civil war" a "civil war"? And who cares, anyway?

Anthony Cordesman says:

"If you talk to U.S. intelligence officers and military people privately, they'd say we've been involved in low level civil war with very slowly increasing intensity since the transfer of power in June 2004."
Which means nothing has really changed. The U.S. Ambassador says:

...the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime had opened a "Pandora's box" of volatile ethnic and sectarian tensions that could engulf the region in all-out war if America pulled out of the country too soon.
Which means things have never gotten any better since we invaded, and that now, while our presence is what's causing the violence, the removal of our presence will unleash the violence. That's the position of Jack Murtha and Tom Harkin. So we're damned if we do, and damned if we don't.

But still, no one is saying what the threshold for "civil war" is, or why it matters. It has become our latest national shibboleth, the sign we've reached the point of no return, that we have truly punched the tar baby with both hands and both feet, and the only way out is through the briar patch.

And no B'rer Fox in sight to help us.

As best I can figure, "civil war" means these ungrateful foreigners (or little brown ones, to Bush pere) have ungraciously rejected our offer of democracy (which, after all, is what all rational peoples aspire to, and is the sign of the acceptance of the end of history), and so we will finally take our ball and go home.

But to declare the situation a "civil war" would mean our efforts have been a failure, and we have won no hearts and no minds, and the war itself should never have been waged. Because to quit, would mean all those who died, died in vain.

Although we did it in Korea; and we did it in Vietnam; and you'd think by now we'd be good at it.

So here we sit, on the horns of our nationally self-imposed dilemma. Having been put in a round room, and told to sit in the corner, our government can't decide where to sit, or whether or not to go blind.

And what we, in left blogistan, should do, is as big a mystery as ever. I've taken enough space here, but that's a subject I want to come back around to. Soon as we find the door out of this room....

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