It is sectarian violence. By any classical definition I can think of for the term “civil war”, it does not fit what is going on in Iraq. But even if that rhetorical point were conceded over to the anti-war left- because that’s really the whole point of the label: to delegitimize the war, and reinforce the argument of “cut-and-run”- as Michael Medved says, “So what?”
In his blogpost today, Medved points out why the haggling over defining the current state of affairs is a moot point:
In Afghanistan in 2001, we entered a long running civil war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance and helped the good guys to decisive victory within a matter of weeks. No one looked at the situation and said, “Uh-oh, there’s a bloody civil war that’s been going on in that country for years, so the U.S. can’t possibly send its forces!” As a matter of fact, there’s another “civil war” raging in Afghanistan right now —- a conflict that fits the classic “civil war” model far better than the situation in Iraq. In Afghanistan, there are two clearly recognizable sides (the Taliban and the Karzai government) warring for control. In Iraq, there’s no organized, recognizable, anti-government leadership of the insurgency, no program or even ruling clique that the terrorists seek to impose, no prominent leaders with whom the U.S. and our allies can negotiate or around whom the opposition can rally. The real struggle is governmental authority vs. bloody chaos–and the fact that bloody chaos is winning at the moment doesn’t mean that it’s a civil war.
He and the editorial in Opinion Journal, yesterday, also point out our involvement in Bosnia and Kosovo. Medved goes further in examples throughout our history of interjecting ourselves in the midst of civil wars.
Democrat defeatists and war critic quagmirists, for quite some time have long wanted to label the insurgency a “civil war” almost from the very beginning. SNAFU at One Soldier’s Perspective (who is still in Iraq) doesn’t see anything different, other than the media’s brazen attempts to willfully create the perception they wish for. Of course no one in the media would ever admit it- even to themselves! What American journalist wants to believe that he is helping our enemies? Even as many journalists want to think of themselves as “above the fray”, believing that excellence in their profession requires of them to be journalists first, and Americans second. The truth is, journalists and their editorial board are anything but detached, impartial observers. They are as much victims of their own biases as we are victims of their own biases.
Helping the enemy is exactly what the news media does, not only when they blatantly print and televise enemy propaganda, and call it “showing both sides” and “their (i.e., insurgents’) perspective”; but also when, during a time of war, all they are showing is the sensationalism….the latest car bombing…the latest IED explosion…the latest sectarian violence. Mudkitty (a very popular commentor on conservative blogs [/sarcasm]- *waves to Mudkitty*) writes,
The fact that someone opens a melon stand is not “news.”
Under normal conditions, it might not be. But during a time of war when morale is important as is America’s will to succeed and not live up to the “paper tiger” misnomer, reporting the good news that is also going on in Iraq- i.e. highlighting it, frontpaging it, underscoring it, etc.- is a good thing and even necessary propaganda. Propaganda doesn’t have to be dishonest and a negative. What it does, is it provides a balance and a fuller picture of what’s going on. Violence is not the only thing going on in Iraq. When the media has created the perception in people’s minds of widespread violence in Iraq, rather than a concentration of violence in just 2 or 3 of the 18 provinces, that is misleading and that is dishonest; that (mis)perception needs to be countered by showing the “ordinary” and the “normal”; the “business as usual” that is free from violence. This is when the “not newsworthy” does indeed become “newsworthy“. That is why there is nothing shameful about our military offering to pay Iraqi newspapers to report positive stories- so long as those stories are true. What is shameful is that our military not only has to fight this war on one front; but a second front as well, doing the work our 4th estate won’t do. How is it that they (our military selling positive stories and successes in Iraq) are accused of presenting only one side, when one side is really all that the dinosaur media ever wants to really talk about? Does it ever occur to the 4th estate when they behave as a fifth column? They think their behavior during Vietnam was noble; and they seem hellbent on repeating it in today’s war. Have they learned nothing? Apparently, just all the wrong lessons of that other war.
Previously: The MSM Patting Themselves on the Back posted by Curt.