View Poll Results: Civil War in Iraq?

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  • Yes

    21 67.74%
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Thread: Poll: Civil War in Iraq - Yes or No?

  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Poll: Civil War in Iraq - Yes or No?

    Civil War in Iraq? Now.
    Last edited by SWJED; 07-16-2006 at 02:50 AM.

  2. #2
    Council Member Stu-6's Avatar
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    Do you mean is there one now or will there be in the near future? It might change some peoples answer.

    My answer is not yet. A situation that is ripe for civil war is being held in check at the moment by the presence of international forces but there ability to control the situation is degrading. If something doesnít change soon a more open civil war will be unavoidable.

  3. #3
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default Concur wth Stu

    I think we aren't there yet.

    Stu-6, what do you believe needs to change to prevent slipping into civil war?

  4. #4
    Council Member Stu-6's Avatar
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    I wish I really thought I had the answer for that; it is obvious to me that we are headed in the wrong direction, it is much less obvious how to change direction. With that caveat out of the way here are some things that I think might be worth trying:

    1. Currently US troops are preventing all out civil war and paradoxically inflaming nationalistic sentiments which of course further instability. We need to find a way to take the American face off of this. To do this we need to do some serious diplomatic wheeling and dealing to get other troops in there preferably Muslim troops, under a UN command, not including any states that border Iraq; but of course we will have to work with what we can get. Also while other nations would be asked to provide peacekeepers the US will still need to contribute significantly to logistic, intelligence, and general support. Second it is time to think about setting some time lines for withdraw, they donít have to be too soon but we need to make it obvious that we arenít staying.

    2. We need to start working with the power brokers in Iraq, both inside the government and more importantly outside, representing all factions to start working out some deal that everyone can deal with. This will likely include something between federalism and balkanization and may include forging aid promises that boarder on flat out bribes.

    3. We need to change the economic situation. I donít care if we end up paying people to make little rocks out of big rocks we need to get the unemployment rate down. People without jobs are to easy for guerillas to recruiter.


    4. Where we have troops we need to get them out from behind walls and armor. The will need to be intermingled with Iraqi security forces and talking to the people. Not driving by in armored vehicles.

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    Was Northern Ireland a civil war during "the Troubles?" If so, then Iraq is definitely one now.

  6. #6
    Council Member Stu-6's Avatar
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    Maybe the starting point here is finding a common definition of civil war?

    I said not yet mostly because I am thinking of civil war as having a self-sustaining quality that is not there . . . yet. This is complicated by the fact that I think international troops are the only thing preventing this, so in a since it is a civil war just temporarily restrained. Admittedly it is something of a fine line.

    The follow on question to all this is: If we (coalition countries) decided it is a civil war then what do we do?

  7. #7
    Council Member CPT Holzbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stu-6
    Maybe the starting point here is finding a common definition of civil war?
    This is the catch. What exactly makes it a civil war? The number of people who die each day? The seccesion of provinces?
    "The Infantryís primary role is close combat, which may occur in any type of mission, in any theater, or environment. Characterized by extreme violence and physiological shock, close combat is callous and unforgiving. Its dimensions are measured in minutes and meters, and its consequences are final." - Paragraph 1-1, FM 3-21.8: Infantry Rifle PLT and SQD.

    - M.A. Holzbach

  8. #8
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    I don't know if this helps, but generally a civil war would be defined as groups that fight each other inside the "physical boundaries" of the country that both parties live.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    I would suggest as I did in the case of defining insurgency that the relevant definition is the one selected by the Iraqis. In that regard, I would say that the various groups involved in the revenge and reprisal killings certainly see it as a war.

    Best
    Tom

  10. #10
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default The Hatfields vs. McCoys

    I answered yes to the poll but I don't believe it is a civil war like the western mind thinks of a civil war. I have said this before many of the violent groups act more like crime families to me. And based upon that many of the violent attacks are more like family feuds, in this case many different families and many feuds as power shifts or doesn't shift from old families to new based upon the new democracy.
    The foreign insurgents can exploit this on a daily basis or simply wait till the families are exhausted then make the big play for all the marbles.
    Jedburgh found an interesting article on another thread awhile back about how hard it was to penetrate these terrorists/insurgent groups because they were all related!!!
    You could not just join you had to be related to them. I think this has more to do with what is going on in Iraq then religion or politics in general. Our policies are threatening very old family empires and blood is thicker than water or democratic elections. Crime families do not give up power easily and it can be very bloody.

  11. #11
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default So true...

    And just like the law-abiding folk in Little Italy or Chinatown, they fear the bad guys so much, that they' would rather watch everything collapse aound them, rather than wind up face down in a canal. It's an exaggeration to some degree, but I'm convinced that's why the average man on the strret doesn't help us much more.

  12. #12
    Council Member Stu-6's Avatar
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    That is an interesting thought about how the Iraqiís define it, however is enough to use the definitions of those who are attempting to spread civil war; depending of course on how large a percentage of the population they represent?

  13. #13
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis
    And just like the law-abiding folk in Little Italy or Chinatown, they fear the bad guys so much, that they' would rather watch everything collapse aound them, rather than wind up face down in a canal. It's an exaggeration to some degree, but I'm convinced that's why the average man on the strret doesn't help us much more.
    With a tribal war scenario, there's also the chance that they are related to some of the people they'd be turning in. Then it comes down to a question of betraying the clan/family. They may not be willing to take that step, especially if they feel that the family or clan will provide more in the way of security or safety than the central government will. It doesn't even have to be a crime family in the way that we understand or think we understand them.

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    I think the shattering experience of the US Civil War has put things out of perspective for American observers. By the standards of Grant and Lee, pretty much none of the civil wars of the past century would qualify. I'd say that Iraq definitely qualifies for civil war status, plus an ongoing insurgency (itself a form of civil war), terrorism, organized crime and disorganized crime. Really, Iraq has everything but the kitchen sink going on just now.

  15. #15
    Council Member CPT Holzbach's Avatar
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    Default From today's links...

    "The Infantryís primary role is close combat, which may occur in any type of mission, in any theater, or environment. Characterized by extreme violence and physiological shock, close combat is callous and unforgiving. Its dimensions are measured in minutes and meters, and its consequences are final." - Paragraph 1-1, FM 3-21.8: Infantry Rifle PLT and SQD.

    - M.A. Holzbach

  16. #16
    Council Member CPT Holzbach's Avatar
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    And a good point from a writer on the blog at Real Clear Politics, also from today's links:

    So long as the institutions comprising the new government hold together and the Sunni, Shi'a and Kurds continue to stay involved in the political process, the pot won't boil over into all out civil war.
    The full article.
    "The Infantryís primary role is close combat, which may occur in any type of mission, in any theater, or environment. Characterized by extreme violence and physiological shock, close combat is callous and unforgiving. Its dimensions are measured in minutes and meters, and its consequences are final." - Paragraph 1-1, FM 3-21.8: Infantry Rifle PLT and SQD.

    - M.A. Holzbach

  17. #17
    Council Member Stu-6's Avatar
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    I donít know, if they hold together but hold no power I think it could be a civil war. Just because some are involved in the political systems doesnít mean all are, and they could easily be involved in both politics and civil fighting.

  18. #18
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Top U.S. Commanders: Iraq Moving Toward Civil War

    3 August Washington Post - Iraq Moving Toward Civil War, Top U.S. Commanders Say by William Branigin and Mary Jordan.

    The top U.S. commander in the Middle East told a Senate panel today that the recent wave of sectarian violence in Iraq threatens to push the country toward an all-out civil war.

    Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of the U.S. Central Command, also said U.S. forces could take more casualties as they carry out a new plan to reinforce Baghdad, and he cast doubt on earlier predictions that the U.S. troop level in Iraq could be drawn down this year.

    Abizaid, appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, made the comments after the British ambassador to Iraq reported in a diplomatic dispatch that Iraq was more likely headed to "low intensity civil war" and sectarian partition than to a stable democracy.

    The BBC reported that the assessment was contained in the final diplomatic cable from William Patey to Prime Minister Tony Blair and top members of Blair's cabinet before Patey left the Iraqi capital last week.

    In his comments today, Abizaid did not dispute Patey's assessment...

  19. #19
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default More...

    3 August Voice of America - US Generals: Civil War in Iraq Possible by Al Pessin.

    The commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East told Congress Thursday that militants are trying to push Iraq into civil war, but he also said he believes the Iraqi government and military can prevent that if they have strong international support.

    During a lengthy and sometimes heated discussion between senior defense department officials and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, General John Abizaid painted a stark picture of the situation in Baghdad.

    "I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it in Baghdad in particular, and that if not stopped it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war," he said. "Al-Qaida terrorists, insurgents and Shia' militia militants compete to plunge the country into civil war. It is a decisive time in Baghdad and it requires decisive Iraqi action with our clear support."

    General Abizaid says there are sectarian divisions that cannot be ignored. But he said the new Iraqi government and its security forces are committed to getting the situation under control.

    "The most important point that we've got to keep in mind is that the army is holding together and that the government is committed to bringing the sectarian violence under control," he added. "So the question is, 'Am I optimistic whether or not Iraqi forces, with our support, with the backing of the Iraqi government can prevent the slide to civil war?' My answer is yes I'm optimistic that that slide can be prevented."

    In a memo made public by the BBC, the outgoing British Ambassador to Iraq drew the opposite conclusion, telling Prime Minister Tony Blair that a "low intensity civil war" is likely, and predicting that Iraq will break up along ethnic lines.

    General Abizaid told the senate committee the new Iraqi government knows what must be done, and is working on the problems. He said the priorities are to bring Baghdad under control, disband illegal militias, bring death squad leaders to justice and proceed with the national reconciliation process.

    At the same hearing, several senators and senior officials said the ultimate solutions to the violence in Iraq will be social and political, rather than military, and that Iraqis themselves must find the solutions. The top U.S. military officer, General Peter Pace, said now is a decisive time for the Iraqi people to make clear to the militants that they want the violence to end so they can build a democratic future.

    "We need the Iraqi people to seize this moment," he said. "We provided security for them. Their armed forces are providing security for them, and their armed forces are dying for them. They need to decide that this is their moment."

    The Senate hearing featured some partisan criticism of administration policy in Iraq, and some partisan support as well. But some senators from President Bush's Republican Party indicated they have increasing concerns about the future of the U.S. commitment in Iraq, because of the increase in violence. The powerful committee chairman, Senator John Warner, said the administration might have to ask the congress for additional authorizations if Iraq does descend into civil war.

    General Abizaid, the Middle East regional commander, said he has rarely seen the region as "unsettled and volatile" as it is now in his more than 30-year career. But he argued for defeating the extremists now, in Iraq, saying halfway measures in the past made them stronger and that the international community cannot afford to let that happen again.

    "This is a very serious problem that requires the application of our national might and will, along with that of the international community, to face down the extremist threat, whether it's sponsored by Iran or whether it comes from al-Qaida, or we will fight one of the biggest wars we've ever fought," he said.

    General Abizaid is among the officials who approved the slight increase in U.S. troop strength in Iraq last week. He said some reduction by the end of the year is possible, but it is more important to help the Iraqi government and military get the situation in Baghdad under control.

  20. #20
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    Default Civil War in Iraq

    I answered yes to this question. I assumed it meant is there one or going to be one soon. I believe that what is needed is some tell tale signs that a civil war is happening. For me it would be with full scale sectarian violence and this can only be a bad thing. The Shiites if they were loosing would turn to Iran and the Sunnis if they were on the ropes would turn to their brothers in Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Is this a viable assessment?

    peace Rob

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