Bryan, more rested now from his trip to Iraq with Michelle Malkin, demonstrates how Iraq is not in a civil war.
What should be a cold assessment of truth on the ground in Iraq has, like every single aspect of the war, become politicized. If you describe the situation in Iraq as a “civil war,” it’s taken as an implied or direct criticism of President Bush more than your opinion of the actual state of play in Iraq. If you resist calling it a “civil war,” you’re usually seen as an apologist for the Bush administration and its policies.
Why everything has to revolve around Bush is a mystery to me. Making everything about him trivializes the war and personalizes it to the point that real policy debate becomes impossible. It makes our politics petty and hinders our ability to see reality for what it is and learn to adjust to it. It’s childish, but it’s where we are as a country.
That’s because we’ve been spoiled by our own blessings and not having wars in our homeland or government collapses.
Having seen a little bit of Baghdad up close and talked with the troops serving there, I don’t believe Iraq is in a state of civil war. Hear me out. You can always mischaracterize me later, but at least do me the honor of using my actual words.
As I said in my first post since returning from Iraq, calling the situation there a “civil war” misunderstands and oversimplifies the conflict there. We’ve all seen the movie Mad Max, right? Iraq is something like that–chaotic and hyper violent in places, but the world of that film isn’t orderly enough to be called a civil war. Well, parts of Baghdad are a lot like that film. Parts aren’t. Most of the violence is confined to areas where the Sunni and Shia mix, along with insurgent Haifa Street. The rest of Baghdad, the vast majority in fact, isn’t terribly violent unless the insurgents or terrorists mount attacks there to draw in US forces and press coverage.
The truth is, a real civil war might be a welcome development, as it would probably be less complicated than what it actually going on over there right now. A civil war might clarify who is on which side and what they want.
Now, here’s something the MSM would never promote or even think would happen. The rug would be jerked out from under their biased agenda.
Our troops have to stay in an area long enough to get to know who the local players are and what their goals are. Our troops have to generate good, reliable intelligence on the ground, which means getting out of their “urban submarines” and walking around on foot talking to people on the street. That takes equal measures of guts and patience, and it takes knowing how to read people and watch for threats even while you’re engaged in conversations over chai. They have to hold meetings with local sheiks and sort out the good ones from the radicals. And they’re working from within bases and behind a language barrier, with a foreign culture thrown in just to make it more fun.
This is what’s know as good solid truth on the war. The MSM prefers the sex appeal of innocents being blown up by insurgents or Americans letting a dog bark in the face of an al-Qaeda member.
The troops don’t call it a civil war. They call it an insurgency, and their strategy, counterinsurgency, or COIN. And they’re working Iraq along classic COIN doctrine, working with the local people as if they are the principal war terrain, and working to co-opt as many of the “enemy” as possible without having to fight and kill every last one. I only put “enemy” in quotes because there isn’t any one enemy to deal with; Iraq is full of enemies, who hate the US, or hate each other, or will work with each other against the US or with the US against each other. Very few of them have national ambitions, and some are agents of Iran and to a lesser extent Syria.
This is not a civil war, but a “just” war.
It seems that Bush may have finally found the proper motivation for Maliki to put an end to the Shi’ite death squads. Now we have to help the Iraqi government find the incentives to get the Iraqis to work on rebuilding their nation.