The civil war in Iraq
There is no doubt in my mind that Iraq is in a state of civil war. What an oxymoronic term.
It’s been a civil war for some time. In fact, it started more than 1,200 years ago. If you want to nit pick, Iraq’s current iteration of the larger scale war between Sunni and Shia “started” in earnest after the bombing of the gold-domed mosque last year.
President Bush can refer to the situation as “sectarian violence” all he wants, and he isn’t helping to solve the problem or frame it correctly when he does. He’s just being stubborn. Meanwhile people continue to be murdered in various horrific ways.
The Associated Press reports that Mr. Bush still says that the violence in Iraq is not a civil war. Rather, he says, it is actually part of an Al Qaeda plot to “use violence to goad Iraqi factions into repeatedly attacking each other.” He made the comments at a news conference with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
I gave up a year of my life in Iraq trying to help stabilize the place and make it better for all those who are stuck there. That didn’t really happen. We made small steps forward and took big ones backwards. By nearly any measures that matter – quality of daily life, sense of security, economic indicators, death rate per capita, access to medical care, etc. Iraq has deteriorated in the last year. Baghdad is a mess. Operation Together Forward is stagnant.
Can we please stop debating whether there is a civil war and start talking about how many more troops are needed in the short term to get things secure in Baghdad? That would be nice. Of course, I find it unlikely that our politicians will manage to get much accomplished. If we lose in Iraq, it won’t be because our troops or military failed. It will be because our politicians bicker like four-year-olds and cause us all to lose face on what journalists love to call “the Arab street.” That’s stupid. In Arab culture, pride is just about the most important thing there is. American politicians need to understand that they are playing with the outcome of the way the entire century is going to go. Do we throw our hands up and run away from problems or do we continue taking our licks until Iraq is stable enough to manage its own affairs without turning into the century’s largest exporter of human incendiary devices that home in on Americans? On the other hand, Saudi Arabia currently holds that honor, and we continue speaking out both sides of our mouth about freedom and democracy while holding hands with the royal family in that rather unfree nation populated by an alarming number of violently oriented religious zealots.
What a world.