Editor, Independent Coast Observer
According to the dictionary definitions provided by Steven Finz (ICO March 24, 2006, “’civil war’ as strife between members of a community,” just about every nation is or has recently experienced a civil war. France, for example.
In a more serious vein, in real civil wars, hundreds of thousands to several millions die. For example, the American, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Russian, Yugoslavian, and African (Rwanda, Congo/Zaire, Biafra, Angola and Mozambique through Sierra Leone and Liberia to Sudan and Ivory Coast) – each of these civil wars resulted in multiples ranging from ten to over one hundred more deaths than has been experienced in Iraq.
The reason those were labeled civil wars and Iraq’s conflict has not is quite simple. We label conflicts in the context of previous ones, and at this point the terrorism in Iraq may qualify as an insurgency, but not a civil war. Let me indulge our fondness for dictionary definitions and use the easily accessible Wikipedia one:
“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 (conventionally fought or not). In simple terms, a Civil War is a war in which a country fights another part of itself.”
“An insurgency is an organized rebellion that engages in deliberate actions to cause the downfall of a governmental authority, through destruction and armed actions.” The terrorism in Iraq may not even qualify as an insurgency under this Wikipedia definition, since at this point there is no “organized rebellion.”
However, the left is rabid to label the terrorism in Iraq a civil war, damn the facts.