Patterico's Pontifications


Is the Iraq Conflict Now a Civil War? The L.A. Times Knows for Sure . . . (UPDATED: But Al Jazeera Doesn’t!)

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 9:41 pm

Is the Iraq sectarian violence a full-scale civil war? Various factions might debate it, but Solomon Moore — the guy who wrote that flawed story about Ramadi and wouldn’t respond to my questions about it — has made up his mind. He has a piece titled Civil war worsens, which begins:

Iraq’s civil war worsened Friday as Shiite and Sunni Arabs engaged in retaliatory attacks in the wake of coordinated car-bombings that killed more than 200 people in a Shiite slum the day before — even as a main Shiite political faction threatened a walkout, a move that likely would lead to the government’s collapse and plunge the nation deeper into disarray.

I guess the debate is over.

UPDATE x4 (Bumped to top for obvious reasons): While the L.A. Times says that we’re already in a civil war, Al Jazeera quotes a UN envoy saying we’re headed there:

Meanwhile, a UN envoy has urged Iraq’s government to halt a slide into civil war and stop the “cancer” of sectarianism from destroying the country, warning that the carnage of this week could tear Iraq apart.

As the updates below show, the L.A. Times article also quotes an expert worried that we’re headed in that direction. But the L.A. Times declares we’re in civil war now. In its story, Al Jazeera does not.


UPDATE: The title of the piece has been changed, to “Wave of retaliation sweeps Iraq.” The first line of the article continues to describe Iraq as being in a civil war. You can currently see this by doing a Google search for “Iraq civil war,” which shows numerous stories about how we might be sliding towards civil war — and the L.A. Times story titled “Civil war worsens” that concludes we’re already there.

UPDATE x2: Some commenters are saying, of course it’s a civil war. (Understand, though, that there are a lot of folks coming in from “Crooks and Liars” today.) The odd thing is, an expert quoted in the Times article doesn’t seem to think it is, yet — just that it might become one:

Anthony Cordesman, a former Defense Department official and a military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, another Washington think tank, said Sadr’s challenge to Dhari might be even more dangerous than that to Maliki. If the Sunnis fail to satisfy Sadr, Cordesman argued, sectarian violence could grow even worse.

“It’s going to take a couple days to know how serious this is,” he said. “Will this lead to a large-scale civil war? The worse case is that this leads to enough misunderstanding and anger to drive the country into full-scale civil war.”

(It might even be the “worst” case.)

That’s OK, the reporter knows better than the expert. Even though the reporter doesn’t even know the basic facts about what’s going on in the country, as I noted yesterday.

UPDATE x3: Just to give you more detail about what others are saying: if you look at the top stories in that Google search for “Iraq civil war” listed above, you’ll see a Reuters story titled “Baghdad violence fuels fears of civil war.” Another is titled UN envoy warns of Iraq civil war.

Don’t Reuters and UN envoys read the L.A. Times? We’re not headed there; we’re already there. It’s not a matter of opinion; it’s hard news, baby.

20 Responses to “Is the Iraq Conflict Now a Civil War? The L.A. Times Knows for Sure . . . (UPDATED: But Al Jazeera Doesn’t!)”

  1. Of course it’s a civil war. The L.A. Times is right.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  2. Where are the casualty figures coming from. The Interior Ministry is full of Shiite radicals who have slanted the figures before and some of the figures issued by hospitals are also questionable.

    davod (5fdaa2)

  3. It is a difficult question, but I’d say when you have a number of ethno-confessional groups fighting one another and the government is no guarantor of safety one is experiencing a civil war. In other words, we should probably stop thinking that all civil wars resemble resemble the conflict that occurred in in America between 1861-1865. Anyway, I don’t mean or want to engage in logomachy.

    Horace (cbe5f9)

  4. To be fair here, the article is not entitled “Civil war worsens;” the title, following the link you gave us, is:

    Wave of retaliation sweeps Iraq:
    Shiite bloc’s threatened walkout could lead to the government’s collapse.

    You did correctly quote Mr Moore’s first line. And headlines are usually written by the editors, not the article writer.

    Dana (e7aa47)

  5. I’ve thought we’d been in a civil war for a while now. Just because its not a total war with front lines and commands, like out civil war, don’t make not a civil war.

    actus (10527e)

  6. i mean, like our civil war. If only they would show us the ChaosMeter (TM) every week.

    actus (10527e)

  7. what are your metrics for defining a civil war, as opposed to alternatives such as
    a really bad scene
    a situation verging on anarchy
    a death-squad free-for-all?
    i deem it unlikely that a ulysses s. grant or robert e. lee in a turban will emerge from this conflict.

    assistant devil's advocate (e58ca7)

  8. I wish you guys would all get on the same page. Powerline announced a “Civil War” on November 9, and a “rebellion” on November 8. Malkin also called it a “Civil War” in early Nov. Of course, that was November of 2005 and the country was France. Remember when two people died in that “Civil War?” But then, they were a hell of a lot of cars attacked.
    (Sorry, but I don’t know how to put the links in this comment, you’d have to go to my site)

    bbbustard (e1bb93)

  9. Webster’s define a civil war as “a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country”. When dozens of Shiites/Sunnis are being killed each day in sectarian violence, it sounds like it meets the criteria.

    GS From FL (936b55)

  10. With this much killing and people getting burned alive, then there is no doubt that this is a civil war.

    Psyberian (97730d)

  11. Uh….it’s a civil war by any definition. Why is that so important? This is my first visit to the blog and was surprised to note a certain irritation at the LA Times for calling a spade a spade.

    Mickey (501dab)

  12. Why don’t you spend a little more time worrying about what is happening in Iraq, instead of worrying about what the LA Times says is happening in Iraq?

    mkultra (354561)

  13. It is a civil war; it always was going to become a civil war from the day we invaded. Anyone with an ounce of sense knew it would become a civil war if we invaded.

    We have been the cause of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths. We, the good people of this country, elected that moron (I voted for him) so we share the blame for the disaster in Iraq.

    RJN (e12f22)

  14. If only the LAT was as concerned about ‘civil war’ on it’s own streets as it is in Baghdad?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  15. To be fair here, the article is not entitled “Civil war worsens;” the title, following the link you gave us, is:

    The title has been changed.

    Patterico (de0616)

  16. The Civil War in Iraq dates back to 1991 when Saddam brutally but only temporarily put down the Shiite uprising by killing about 300,000 Iraqis (to the applause of Libs and the LAT).

    That being said, the guy who simply reprints Al Qaeda propaganda that is factually wrong deserves to be beaten with his poor reporting. The LAT is not even minimally competent in reporting.

    Jim Rockford (e09923)

  17. See the latest update. Al Jazeera has a current story running, quoting a UN envoy worried about a slide towards civil war. Meanwhile, the L.A. Times says we’re already there.

    Patterico (de0616)

  18. Patterico, this is completely pointless quibbling, like arguing if it is raining hard enough to qualify as a “downpour”.

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  19. Patterico, this is completely pointless quibbling, like arguing if it is raining hard enough to qualify as a “downpour”

    And the UN is only concerned with whether it is a large scale or full scale downpour.

    actus (10527e)

  20. Just a little lesson in grammar. I can’t stand to see this one wrong AGAIN.

    “It’s” is short for “it is”. Such as: it’s a pity the republicans blew the last election.

    “Its” is possessive. Such as: The republican party and its elected officials blew the last election.

    rightisright (2cbc9b)

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