Civil War in Iraq? Don’t Ask Rumsfeld

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Well, okay. In the post below I noted that it appeared that it’s perhaps begun to dawn on the Bush administration that there’s actually a very serious sectarian civil war going on in Iraq. Maybe I should take that back. Here was Donald Rumsfeld yesterday:

Q: Is the country closer to a civil war?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I don’t know. You know, I thought about that last night, and just musing over the words, the phrase, and what constitutes it. If you think of our Civil War, this is really very different. If you think of civil wars in other countries, this is really quite different. There is — there is a good deal of violence in Baghdad and two or three other provinces, and yet in 14 other provinces there’s very little violence or numbers of incidents.

So it’s a — it’s a highly concentrated thing. It clearly is being stimulated by people who would like to have what could be characterized as a civil war and win it, but I’m not going to be the one to decide if, when or at all.

This is disgraceful. Obviously a civil war in Iraq won’t look like the 19th-century American Civil War, with armies lining up on both sides with rifles and bayonets and cannons. Thanks for the clarification. But 14,000 Iraqis have died this year already due to violence, much of it sectarian. If Rumsfeld doesn’t want to call it a “civil war”—although that’s what many prominent Iraqis are calling it—he could at least acknowledge the problem. But no, instead we hear that the violence is “limited” to “Baghdad and two or three other provinces”? Okay, but over a fifth of the population lives in Baghdad. It’s a huge problem. And the Secretary of Defense appears completely oblivious.

Meanwhile, the newest “new” plan to secure Baghdad looks a lot like the previous “new” plan to secure Baghdad. So that should inspire confidence.

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