Saturday, September 02, 2006

What Is The Civil War Litmus Test?

I have to admit, I am a bit baffled. How can reporters who cover Iraq, especially considering the focus on increased sectarian violence, deny that the Iraqis are not already engaged in a civil war?

Today in the Washington Post, Ann Scott Tyson writes about a new Pentagon report that showed that sectarian violence is at its highest level in more than 2 years.

It's one thing when she uses the language of denial when referring to what is included in the Pentagon report. For example, in the first paragraph she writes that, according to the study,
"preventing civil war is now the most urgent mission of the growing contingent of 140,000 U.S. troops in the country."

Similarly, Tyson writes:
"Sustained ethno-sectarian violence is the greatest threat to security and stability in Iraq," the report said. "Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq," it said, while maintaining that civil war can still be prevented. "Coalition forces and the ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] are responding by increased targeting of both Sunni and Shi'a death squads."

It is no surprise that official reporting from the military would deny that a civil war is underway. But what about the rest of Tyson's reporting.

As early as paragraph 3, Tyson writes,
"The Pentagon report, though consistent with what news media have reported for months, is significant because it represents an official acknowledgment of trends that are widely believed to be driving the country toward full-scale civil war."

Driving the country toward full-scale civil war?

According to Tyson,
In a grim revelation, the report cited the Baghdad coroner's office stating that it received 1,600 bodies in June and more than 1,800 in July, of which 90 percent were assessed to be the result of executions.

Moreover, the report said, the revenge killings perpetrated by Sunni and Shiite death squads are spreading outside the Iraqi capital into the far reaches of the country, from Basra in the south to Mosul and Kirkuk in the north. Iran and Syria are actively supporting forces fueling the unrest among religious factions, it said.

So if 1,800 slaughtered by sectarian death squads in a month does not represent a civil war in full bloom, what does qualify as a civil war?

Tyson, quoting from the report, writes that the number of weekly attacks in Iraq is now "at nearly 800, the highest level since the Pentagon began gathering the statistics in April 2004."

When does civil war terminology kick in? 1,000 attacks? 5,000?

At the end of the article, Tyson quotes 3 Democrats. Not one states the contrary position that Iraq is already in a civil war.

To make matters more surreal, for her final quote, Tyson gives Senate Minority Leader Harry Reed the last word. Reed says, "We will not abandon our brave troops, nor can we afford to abandon Iraq. But we also can't afford to go along with the Bush administration's failed policies any longer."

So, not only is this not a civil war yet, but even Democrats apparently consider leaving Iraq the equivalent of 'abandoning our troops?'

In the latest CNN poll, 61% of Americans oppose the war in Iraq. Why is the anti-war viewpoint so under-represented in the American media?

1 comment:

telaat said...
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