Thursday, November 30, 2006

Rice: War Between the States "Not a Civil War"

Washington (AP)

Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice re-affirmed today that the war between the Union and the Confederacy was ‘not a civil war.’

“This administration understands that patriotic Americans can disagree,” said Secretary Rice.

“The conflict between the Yankees and the Rebels may have looked like a civil war to a lot of people. But we believe it’s too soon to tell.”

8 Comments:

Anonymous anhomily said...

suddenly our mutual friend's assertions about the "war of Northern aggression" are not seeming so strange... I am betting that the Iraq war will actually go down in history under at least 3 different names - "the war of American (or Bush's) aggression," "the Iraqi Civil War," and "Operation Iraqi Freedom," or whatever meme the Bush Administration has come up with to dupe the public. Hopefully the latter won't stick.

2:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, these guys couldn't have done a better job re-creating Vietnam if they tried.
Ozymandias

1:09 PM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

Good takes guys.

Sometimes a single name won't work to cover something.

Saw this today and thought it was a nice summary of the current parsing of Iraq:

--It's worse than that, argues New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Iraq is broken into so many pieces, "divided among warlords, foreign terrorists, gangs, militias, parties, the police and the army", that the conflict can't be said to constitute civil war, he argues.

But Newsweek columnist Fareed Zakaria says there's no doubt Iraq is in the midst of a civil war, quoting a White House deputy press secretary who spoke of "terrorists ... targeting innocents in a brazen effort to topple a democratically elected government". Such thinking misinterprets the reality of Iraq today, he concludes.

The Guardian's leader turns to the U.S. public: "...public opinion in democracies is not concerned with fine points, but ... whether the judgments of their governments have taken their countries toward disaster or toward success."

So whose arguments hold more weight? While academic squabbles about the finer details of how to label the conflict seem likely to continue, CNN's Michael Ware speaks from the ground: "...anyone who still remains in doubt about whether this is civil war or not is suffering from the luxury of distance."

7:18 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

As much as I hate all war, I feel that this is not the same as Vietnam for one huge reason. From what I know about Vietnam (and admittedly, I don't know a huge amount) the majority of the population was against the French occupation, then the US involvement, and with the communists who wanted to overthought them. And we were helping the smaller group stay in power. In this case, from everything I can see, the majority of the population was against Saddam's rule, and we are trying to help the majority continue to self-govern in the face of a violent minority who wanted to hold onto power. Which part of that is incorrect?

7:20 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

ha - "overthrow"

7:20 PM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

No, it's not the same as Vietnam.

I like Friedman's comments along those lines.

I don't think the idea that we're trying to help a majority 'self-govern" against a violent minority is an accurate take on what's going on there.

In my view, there is no "majority" or "minority' in Iraq. There is no real nation or political culture.

I think we've misunderstood what we're dealing with from the beginning.

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Eddy E said...

misunderstood is probably an understatement... We thought it was going to be U.S. vs. Republican Guard.

Regarding Rice's comment: I thought those leftist democrats were supposed to be the ones who can't handle propositional truth... you learn something new every day!

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Certainly the identity of the Iraqi peoples is much different from that of the Vietnamese. But much is the same. The war has been waged by our side for purely ideological reasons as opposed to practical and finite ones (repelling Saddam's '91 incursion into Kuwait, etc.) The neocons had a theory not unlike the Domino theory that got us into 'Nam. They wanted to demonstrably oppose Islamic Extremism by creating a Jeffersonian Democracy in the Middle East.
Like in Vietnam, the war's architects were removed from the situation and had no idea what they were getting into. They were ideologues wed to their pet theory and saw all evidence through that distorted lens. Generals who gave realistic feedback (like Shinseki) were fired. The same happened in 'Nam. Successes were exaggerated. Kills inflated. The only news reaching the President was "good" news no matter how false.
Both wars were waged with no understanding of the people involved. The Vietnamese were chiefly anti-imperialist. Ho Chi Minh had their respect. The Southern Vietnamese were rightly reviled as puppets of America. The same is true in Iraq. Even several years into our occupation Bush didn't know the difference between a Shia and a Sunni. (He still may not.) Furthermore, Iraq wasn never an Islamic state as they allege. Outside of Turkey, it is the most secular state in the Middle East - the only place where Al-Queda was not.
Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest is a great review of Vietnam. Change the names of the people and places (and party) and it could read like an account of our Iraqi misadventure.
Ozy

6:29 PM  

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