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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Definition of Civil War: Is it exactly a "bad" thing?

From reading accounts in different papers and watching a variety of news outlets, it seems each person has their own "meaning" of what Civil War actually is. Even historians seem to disagree on exactly what the criteria is to be able to classify actions as civil war.

A civil war is a war in which parties within the same culture, society or nationality fight for political power or control of an area. Some civil wars are also categorized as revolutions when major societal restructuring is a possible outcome of the conflict. An insurgency, whether successful or not, is likely to be classified as a civil war by some historians if, and only if, organized armies fight conventional battles. Other historians state the criteria for a civil war is that there must be prolonged violence between organized factions or defined regions of a country.

Almost every nation has minority groups, religious plurality, and ideological divisions, but not all plunge into civil war. Sociologists have long searched for what variables trigger civil wars. In the modern world most civil wars occur in nations that are poor, autocratic, and regionally divided. However, the United States was one of the wealthiest and most democratic countries in the world at the time of its bloody civil war.

Research related to the democratic peace theory have studied civil wars and democracy. Research shows that the most democratic and the most authoritarian states have few civil wars, and intermediate regimes the most.

The probability for a civil war is also increased by political change, regardless whether toward greater democracy or greater autocracy. Intermediate regimes continue to be the most prone to civil war, regardless of the time since the political change.

In the long run, since intermediate regimes are less stable than autocracies, which in turn are less stable than democracies, durable democracy is the most probable end-point of the process of democratization. The fall of Communism and the increase in the number of democratic states were accompanied by a sudden and dramatic decline in total warfare, interstate wars, ethnic wars, revolutionary wars, and the number of refugees and displaced persons.

Prospect has come out with an article explaining, using examples of past civil wars why in John Keegan's opinion, Iraq is not yet in the midst of a civil war, in his view, it has not met the full criteria needed to acheive such a status.

The most striking feature of the civil violence in Iraq is that it is for the most part decidedly unmilitary. Despite the names of the two Shia militias, only the third group, the state forces, exhibits the military characteristics of the principal actors in the five conflicts that we recognise as civil wars: uniforms, clear chains of command, acknowledged leadership, and official, public war aims.

There are no, or almost no, battles in Iraq's domestic killing. Civilians are the principal targets. The looser definition of the "war" part of civil war nonetheless acknowledges that if factions or regions are killing enough people for enough time, it can be petty not to recognise the conflict as something very like a war. Iraq meets this standard only partly: the non-state players for the most part lack anything like the public character of players in civil wars to date. In other words, it is not so much that Iraq is a conflict without uniforms and fighting that prevents it from being a civil war, but rather that it is violence in which no player except the state and al Qaeda, which is a minor player, says what it wants, or indeed says that it wants anything other than the continuation of the country's elected government. (One Sunni Islamist group has recently called for a separate Sunni state.)

Read the rest, it is a good piece.

Then again, we have the NYT who, of course has the historians and experts on their staff of writers to declare it is already a civil war. (LOL)

For the purpose of this post, which might not be very popular with my fellow conservatives, I am going to "assume", just for this post, that Iraq IS in the midst of Civil War. This does not mean I believe it is, it does not mean I am convinced that Iraq has met the criteria of civil war, but, again, for the purpose of this post I wish to assume for just a second it is.

Which brings me to the question... what if it is civil war we are seeing in Iraq? Despite the fact that all of the criterias have not been met.

Is it such a bad thing? As stated above: In the long run, since intermediate regimes are less stable than autocracies, which in turn are less stable than democracies, durable democracy is the most probable end-point of the process of democratization.

Just using our own history as one small example: In the wake of the American civil war, although it was not the original intention at the beginning, the end result was the abolishing of slavery.... is that a bad thing?

Another example, more recent: The Algerian Civil War was an armed conflict between the Algerian government and various Islamist rebel groups which began in 1991. It is estimated to have cost between 150,000 and 200,000 lives. The conflict effectively ended with a government victory, following the surrender of the Islamic Salvation Army and the 2002 defeat of the Armed Islamic Group.

Again I ask... did the outcome make it safer? The question should not be, is Iraq in the midst of a civil war. The question should be... who needs to WIN in the end to make the Middle East, therefore the rest of the world, safer?

As I showed in detail, the nature of our enemy is spoonfed hatred, morning, noon and night and this is the same enemy that Iraqi Democracy is fighting.

Fact is, whatever you call it, it is a battle between Islamic Extremists and a country fighting for democracy.... without all the beating around the bush, without the delay tactics used by those that hate answering direct questions... ask yourself this: Who would you prefer to win?

Don't answer yourself with another question, just try to be honest and answer THAT question.

Do you think the world would be better if the Islamic Extremists take over Iraq or if the young democracy prevails? That should be the only question in this whole process.

See, everyone is so damn worried about being right about whether or not Iraq is, in fact, going through a civil war.....assume they are for a second, whether you believe it or not, just ASSUME they are... what is the next logical question, when we get beyond who is right and who is wrong about the "technical term"?

Who do we need to win for US to be safer? That should be the question here.

A quick PS here: Think also of one other undeniable fact. Historians will name this conflict, no matter what we say or what we believe, history books will be written and they will name this conflict exactly what they want to. What we think right now, matters not in the long run.

Others discussing this:

Right Truth has a great post "The West Doesn't Understand the Enemy, or do They?" Good read.

Please keep up with Curt over at Flopping Aces, he is continuously updating his finds on the lies coming from the MSM media as he gets verification of what is true and what is not.