An Uncivil War

Jake Tapper reports for ABC News that Iraq is already in a civil war, and we’d all better accept this fact and adjust.

As Pentagon generals offered optimistic assessments that the sectarian violence in Iraq had dissipated this weekend, other military experts told ABC News that Sunni and Shiite groups in Iraq already are engaged in a civil war, and that the Iraqi government and U.S. military had better accept that fact and adapt accordingly.

“We’re in a civil war now; it’s just that not everybody’s joined in,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, a former military commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina. “The failure to understand that the civil war is already taking place, just not necessarily at the maximum level, means that our counter measures are inadequate and therefore dangerous to our long-term interest.

“It’s our failure to understand reality that has caused us to be late throughout this experience of the last three years in Iraq,” added Nash, who is an ABC News consultant.

Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told ABC News, “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.”

From here let’s skip over to today’s Dan Froomkin column:

… even as the public increasingly sees the situation in Iraq headed toward all-out civil war, Bush’s official position is denial.

Just last week, ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas tried repeatedly to get Bush to address the issue. “What is the policy if, in fact, a civil war should break out or the sectarian violence continues?” she asked. “Are you willing to sacrifice American lives to get the Sunnis and the Shiites to stop killing each other?

Bush’s reply: “I don’t buy your premise that there’s going to be a civil war.”

Good thing Bush wasn’t president in 1861, huh?

Froomkin provides more links to commentary about the essential Bushie world view, which is a mix of ignorance and denial. See especially this Fareed Zakaria column. The Bushies have made one blunder after another in Iraq, and most of these blunders came about because the Bush Administration viewed Iraq through a prism of fantasy. Even now, the Administration remains unable to understand what’s happening in Iraq from an Iraqi point of view. For that reason the Bushies do not understand how their policy decisions actually impact Iraqis, and for this reason they misjudge Iraqi actions and reactions.

But Bush cannot learn from mistakes, because he won’t even admit mistakes. Zakaria writes,

In his State of the Union address in January, President Bush took a swipe at critics. “Hindsight alone is not wisdom,” he said. In fact, the tragedy of Iraq is that most of these critiques were made—by several people—at the time the policies were announced, often before. It’s the president who needs to look back and learn from his mistakes. Hindsight may not be the only wisdom, but it is a lot better than operating in the dark.

Intelligent people may disagree whether Iraq is engaged in civil war now or is just on the edge of one. But the White House position is that there is not now and never will be a civil war. Ronald Brownstein wrote in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times:

… the president gave no hint he’d considered how the widening gulf between Sunni and Shiite might alter America’s strategy. Instead, he summoned old sound bites, as if cueing them on tape. “The troops are chasing down terrorists,” he told Vargas. And: “As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.”

In other words, if there is a civil war in Iraq Bush will be the last to know. And for that reason our response is doomed to be a day late and a few billion dollars short.

I learned a long time ago never to say “it can’t get any worse.” Truly, there are no limits to how bad “it” can get. Hang on to your butts.

Sorta related: Interesting article by Niall Ferguson in today’s Los Angeles Times.

6 thoughts on “An Uncivil War

  1. I especially like bushes often repeated line “As the Iraqis stand up, we’ll stand down”. What a blatant disregard for reality. The Iraqis have been standing up for three years now. Problem is they seem to be standing up against us and the halfassed Army of unemployed Iraqis we have assembled. Oh wait, I almost forgot all this insurgency is the work of one Jordanian. Right.

  2. If bush was president in 1861, the federal government and the south would be in agreement, and it would have been the north that would have succeeded. And who knows the rebel leader may even have been Lincoln.

  3. Jianying, you reveal a weak grasp of history. Bush might have betrayed capitalism and promoted slavery in the territories — the ultimate cheap labor — plus vigorous prosecution of the Fugitive Slave Laws. These moves would have stopped the Secession Crisis, but on the South’s terms. It also would have ensured the U.S. was an impoverished Third-World backwater going into the 20th Century. Way to go.

    On the other hand, assuming the Confederacy went ahead and started a war, the Secessionists would have overrun Washington and taken possession of the White House while Bubble Boy was napping.

  4. Bush and his Tight One-Dimensional Club, do not want to think about the issue, which Zakaria does not touch on here is it is absolutely core: when you attempt to engage in the multi-level, dense (long term) and economically costly process of Nation Building [as the U.S. thought it would do in South Vietnam with Diem] it is not possible to do it with military troops alone. Nor is it possible to create a “model democracy” with Radical Shia inside and Iran next door. Iraq, a creation from long ago days of British, French and even Russian Imperial endeavors, is now and will be in a civil war until Iran is crushed and the Radical Shia interests in attempted to graft some distorted form of small “d” bureaucratic democracy onto repressive Sharia Law. It will not be a model of Democracy at all. But in this manner only will the atmosphere of Iraq allow for stabilization of the economy by sharing oil revenue and building social works projects. And the US will not be needed for doing this projects…certainly not US troops! Move the US troops into “Kurdistan” and focus on Iran. Other Arab states can much better assist Sunni and Shia into bureaucratic patchworks. Sadr’s groups need either jobs or full scale war. Such a Radical Islamic Thug leader as Sadr has no place in any democracy. Hopefully, he will be a casualty of civil war. Step aside US. The time now is for Iran. Forget Nation Building there. The Marshall Plan did not precede conclusion of the right war.

  5. Gen. Odom by quote: “We [U.S. military forces] created the civil war when we invaded; we can’t prevent a civil war by staying.”

    Odom is absolutely incorrect: the U.S. military took down a repressive totalitarian military regime. The opening for “civil war” came with the ridiculously inept and duplicitous Nation Building operation then imported onto the scene. Odom is absolutely correct that the U.S. military cannot prevent urban guerrilla warfare driven by long historic religious and tribal hatreds now unleashed. Western Democracy cannot be over-laid Islamic Fundamentalism. If BushyBoy was not locked into advancing old line corporate oil interests and instead had an emergency program of building a truly Alternative Energy Industry for America in the 21st Century. That would give BushyBoy many more STRATEGIC options. That he refuses to invest in this 21st world is very revealing…he is trapped in a March of Folly that Barbara Tuchman well described in her excellent book of many years ago. BushyBoy is more in the dead habit of following Walt Rostow’s “Stages of Economic Growth” which demands a civil and cohesive society in order to “take off” in both growth [capitalist of course!] and pinches of civil government…small “d” democracy of some parliamentary type. But BushyBoy is a type of King George. A fatal complex.

  6. Invading Iraq and overthrowing Sadam would expose tensions between the Suni, Shia, and Kurds leading to a Civil war. We’d be bogged down in Iraq for years with little hope of getting out in the forseeable future. I’m paraphrasing, but those words were written by none other that George Herbert Walker Bush and was his reason for not taking Sadam out during the first gulf war. Dubya isn’t going to listen to anybody who isn’t telling him what he wants to hear, he will never admit he’s made a mistake, and we can only hope that the world can hold itself together until we can get this idiot out of office. Althought no one in their right mind will want the job of running this country when he’s through. He’s done a total Humpty Dumpty.

Comments are closed.