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What civil war?

Posted by Richard on March 2, 2006

I’ve heard it on the TV or radio a bazillion times since the bombing of the golden-domed al-Askariya shrine in Samarra: "More deaths from sectarian violence today in Iraq…" The next sentence or phrase invariable mentions a suicide bomber or a car bomb. I then scream at the set, "That’s not sectarian violence, you moron — that’s Zarqawi’s goons!"

Of course, the reporters and editors and newsreaders aren’t really morons, so they must know that they’re being deceitful and irresponsible, and are undermining our war effort, when they describe every IED explosion, mortar attack, or other act of terror as if were part of Iraq’s inevitable descent into a Sunni-Shia civil war. But they do it anyway. Draw your own conclusions about their motives.

For a short and to-the-point contrary perspective from someone in Iraq, read Ralph Peters’ March 1 column in the New York Post (emphasis in original):

THE reporting out of Baghdad continues to be hysterical and dishonest. There is no civil war in the streets. None. Period.

Terrorism, yes. Civil war, no. Clear enough?

Yesterday, I crisscrossed Baghdad, visiting communities on both banks of the Tigris and logging at least 25 miles on the streets. With the weekend curfew lifted, I saw traffic jams, booming business — and everyday life in abundance.

Yes, there were bombings yesterday. The terrorists won’t give up on their dream of sectional strife, and know they can count on allies in the media as long as they keep the images of carnage coming. …

You are being lied to. By elements in the media determined that Iraq must fail. Just give ’em the Bronx cheer.

For an in-depth, multi-source, nuanced look at the whole situation, see this long Mudville Gazette roundup of news from Iraq, which includes a transcript of Prime Minister al-Ja’fari’s address to the country, televised within hours of the shrine bombing. I doubt that you saw or heard any of what he said in your newspaper or on your TV:

We were honored today by the visit of the heads of the Sunni Waqf Office and the Shiite Waqf Office. They are two gentle and good- willed persons. … I received our two brothers, along with a number of Shiite and Sunni scholars. We exchanged views and discussed the current situation and how to use Friday sermons in the best possible way to strengthen relations between the scholars, who will deliver Friday sermons in order to guide the people in this crisis. I listened to them as they talked about certain points. I did not find any difference between their positions with regard to the need to emphasize unity among Iraqis and to inform people of the importance of unity, particularly under these current circumstances.

During the talks we held today, we urged the brothers, who affirmed their desire to end the crisis, to not only try to resolve the crisis through Friday sermons, but also to depend on their good relations and to be present in each others’ mosques. There should be a Shiite presence in Sunni mosques, and there should be a Sunni presence in Shiite mosques. These efforts will support the efforts exerted by our scholars and religious authorities, who stressed the need for respecting the sanctity of mosques and people. Undoubtedly, there is a mutual feeling that some parties are trying to turn Iraqi national unity and sectarian coexistence into sectarian fighting. God willing, this crisis, with the help of the efforts made by our brothers, scholars, and preachers, will remind us that we should maintain Iraq’s unity.

And Greyhawk noted that those efforts were:

about as successful as could possibly be expected. As American troops remained as far in the background as possible, the situation began to appear less like civil war, and more like ongoing violence.

 Regarding the plan to incite a civil war, Greyhawk concluded (emphasis added):

There was a step 4 to the plan, by the way. That would be the violent takfiri "response" to the desired Shiite response to the shrine bombing. While that Shiite response was less than anticipated, the response of the media met the planners expectations to the point they could move forward anyway, so we’re seeing elements of step 4 enacted now with continuing violence across Iraq. More people are dying, but no, you’re not seeing civil war.

And don’t offer undue credit to the American troops. You are seeing proof of what they all know to be true – violence is ongoing, but the Iraqis are increasingly capable of handling it themselves. A few more "civil wars" like this one and the troops will indeed be home.

Quagmire, my ass.

Meanwhile, Mickey Kaus over at Slate (not exactly part of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy) takes some pretty good shots at the Old Gray Lady’s breathless reporting of doom in Iraq (emphases and ellipses in original):

Excitable Times in Ruins! Did the New York Times really run a story last week headlined:

More Clashes Shake Iraq; Political Talks Are in Ruins

"Ruins"? Wow. That is embarrassing. … The hed was repeated in the story’s lede, which said that "political negotiations over a new government" were "in ruins." Funny thing, though–in today’s NYT, negotiations seem to be going on again. Those Iraqi "ruins" get picked up pretty quickly. … P.S.: I’m not saying Bill Keller’s** headline and lede writers were amping up the Iraq hysteria in order to manufacture another Tet. Maybe they just have no judgment or perspective.

Ouch, that’s got to hurt. 🙂

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