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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Call a spade a spade

    Question: When is a war not a war?

    Answer: When we decide not to call it one.

    At least that’s the answer that the White House seems to be going with when it comes to nomenclature of the Iraqi conflict.

    On Tuesday, while in Latvia for a NATO summit, President Bush faced some tough questions about Iraq. But as difficult as the questions themselves was the verbal minefield Bush faced as he avoided referring to the spiraling conflict in Iraq as a “”civil war.””

    The president has insisted on referring to the current situation in Iraq as one of “”sectarian violence”” rather than civil war.

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Peter Pace was also quick to assert yesterday that the ongoing conflict is not a civil war – though he did indicate the danger of al-Qaida’s ongoing attempts to foment one.

    U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, based in Baghdad, has insisted that as long as the nation’s government remains in place, no civil war is occurring.

    And White House Press Secretary Tony Snow has differentiated Iraq’s sectarian violence from an all-out civil war, citing the fact that insurgent forces are not clearly unified and do not necessarily have the same goal.

    For a country that has nebulously declared war on a concept – terror – we’re awfully exacting when it comes to defining “”war”” on other soils.

    What does it take to make a civil war?

    Already, 1.4 million Iraqis have been forced to flee to neighboring nations in the tumult of their country’s violence.

    U.S. troops are moving from the Anbar province of Iraq to a Baghdad defined by its recent spike in bloodshed, where they will work to quell the increasingly violent tensions between sectarian groups and the Iraqi government.

    Within the city, the predominantly Shia eastern side of the Tigris River is being shaken by large-scale violent acts, and the predominantly Sunni western bank is increasingly the site of politically motivated murders and executions.

    Last week saw one of Baghdad’s bloodiest days, with more than 200 dead in a wave of kidnappings and bombings.

    Obviously, there is nothing “”civil”” about these conditions. But the sectarian groups fighting Iraq’s U.S.-backed government to gain their own objectives have clearly veered deep into the territory of civil war – the existence of which the U.S. refuses to acknowledge.

    But despite the fact that our government has yet to do so, major news outlets such as NPR, the Los Angeles Times and, as of Monday, NBC have chosen to describe the conflict as civil war.

    Insisting on calling the violence in Iraq anything less than a civil war downplays the magnitude of the problem. Our government must officially recognize the severity and reality of the situation. It’s only through a recognition of the profound – but, hopefully, surmountable – obstacles the U.S. coalition and fledgling Iraqi government face that they can truly work toward stabilization.

    U.S. government: Call a spade a spade, and a civil war a civil war.

    Opinions Board

    Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Nina Conrad, Lori Foley, Ryan Johnson, Ari Lerner, Nicole Santa Cruz and Matt Stone.

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