Civil War?

John at OpFor: Has Iraq degenerated into Civil War?

Some decent discussion in the comments. My own entry:

It’s a civil war and has been for quite some time. But a low-intensity, guerrilla-type civil war.

The bad guys have taken the fight to the Iraqi military and police, and they’re backed and supported in the field by irregular paramilitary forces and terrorists.

A lot of the civilian-on-civilian bloodshed might not really count as a “civil war”, but just because there is civil strife, gang warfare, and terrorism doesn’t mean that a war isn’t being fought. Just because one side has no chance of winning doesn’t mean that they aren’t fighting.

As long as US troops are there, no one will back the insurgents enough to make it the “civil war” that critics are hoping for, but I fear that trying too hard to pretend that there isn’t a civil war of any kind taking place will hurt our chances to stabilize things.

And, no, I’m not a Chicken Little Hawk crying that the sky is falling.

We just need to own up to the fact that this is a lot more than gangs and angry neighbors.

As is the situation in Iraq, my reasoning remains unchanged.


  1. best comment ever on this topic still remains the reply to my title: ‘I don’t need your civil war’ commenter: ‘It feeds the rich while it buries the poor.’ bwahaha

  2. It’s a civil war in the sense that those who are fighting, the Shiites and the Sunnis, represent two major segments of Iraq. On the other hand, it’s not a civil war in the sense that a majority of one region is actively involved in war on another region, or in the sense that a major rebel army holds significant territory and realistically threatens to take more. It’s a civil war on the fringes, a guerrilla war. Once most of the American troops leave, there probably will be a few major break-outs that look more like a civil war. The Shiite-led democratic government will win, and that will be that.

  3. I think it all comes down to the arab mindset. The nation state is a rather novel ocidental invention, that has not at all sinked in in that part of the world. Basic loyalties lie in the tribe and in the sect. T. E. Lawrence knew that well. Of course a civil war is going on. I do not think it-

  4. Perhaps we should put Saddam back in charge? They seemed to understand him pretty well. All we’ve done in Iraq so far is make it Iran’s bi+ch.

  5. Everybody is preoccupied in trying to define ‘civil war’ and splitting hairs on whether there’s one in Iraq right now. Whether you think it’s a civil war or not, and whether you support the US OIF policy, the facts point out how crappy it is over there. July was reported as having the most bombings aimed at US forces AND having the most civilians killed — all since March ’03. Basically, it sucks no matter what you call it, and our troops are stuck in it for the time being.

  6. Similar things happened when the former Yugoslavia suddenly was free in the 1990s, so it’s not simply an Arab phenomenon. Hundreds of thousands died in the democratization of the Balkans. Iraq has another layer of peril in the tensions between Shiites and Sunnis (inside and outside Iraq), but there were similar tensions between Christians and Muslims, and between others with political grudges over World War II, in the Yugoslavian break-up. Yet today, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and even Kosovo are fairly quiet. Iraq is on its way to becoming the first Muslim Arab democracy ever. The Iraqi people by a wide margin show no signs of wanting anything but the democracy they have long waited for. Democracy, as it develops, will be good for everyone. And it just happens to be the Iraqis’ right. The Iraqi majority has Shiite Islam in common with Iran, but there is no indication that Iraqis want to be Iran’s tool, Iran’s bi-ch. Iran is no stronger, at least not because of Iraq. Iran is more dangerous because, last year, the ruling mullahs decided the theocracy’s front-man president would have to be as fanatical as they are, and disqualified all level-headed candidates for president. In the ‘elections,’ they gave us Ahmadinejad. In its criminal zeal, Iran’s regime will show its hand too early and act too cruelly too soon, as the world’s worst dictatorships inevitably do. Iran will pay dearly for that, and bloody others in the process. But eventually, Iran, like Iraq, will see the wisdom of embracing a lasting peace that only freedom allows.