Saturday, February 25, 2006

May 2005 Civil War in Iraq

I have distinct memories of the media having declared the immanent onset of civil war in Iraq several times. Now that this latest declaration of Iraqi civil war is making the rounds, I decided to try to find out if:

1) The memories I have of these previous declarations are false and I am remembering events that did not occur.

2) The reporting of immanent civil war in Iraq did occur and the media was giving a truthful assessment.

If number one was true then I have a problem. No one's memory is perfect and recollection can be significantly altered over time by suggestion. But this would be different. I have distinct memories of specific media personalities making specific claims about the Iraq being in the opening days of civil war. Surly this is not something you can just be confused about (on my side or the media). If the media has not made claims about the slide into of civil war in Iraq then I am experiencing delusional episodes; possibly hallucinations. The seriousness of this possibility is such that I can not afford to dismiss it without serious consideration. Since I have a distinct memory of events which lead up to the Iraq war that are different from everyone else's, I can not ignore the possibility that I am seriously mentally ill (I remember continuing ongoing interference with the UN weapons inspectors and non compliance with the conditions of surrender imposed on Iraq by the UN whereas the events everyone else remembers can be summarized as "Bush lied, children died").

So I did some research and found that, indeed, the media has been declaring the onset of civil war in Iraq several times. Here is an example of a teaser clip for CBS of their reporting on the Iraq civil war in May of 2005.

So on this issue at least, I am not delusional.

Bob Schieffer has just made the same claim about a slide into civil war including very similar language:
Good evening. I am Bob Schieffer. One of the worst days ever in Iraq, and it's Iraqis against Iraqis. A Middle East expert tells us the country has been plunged into civil war. We start there tonight, and we'll cover these stories...
It is a plunge now, not a slide. If a Middle East expert says it it's so. I can't help but wonder if they have they explained why they were wrong about the onset of civil war in May of 2005 and why they are being more realistic this time. Or is it their contention that civil war actually occurred, then was ended or postponed only to start again in February 2006?

As for number 2) there are many types and definitions of "Civil War" so let us go with the most inclusive definition I can find, namely this one:
A war between factions or regions of the same country.
Can we at least take as a reasonable assumption that such an event must have a beginning and end, and that in order for a civil war to have two beginnings it must have either a notable cease fire/truce or be two separate wars? If not, could someone please explain to me how a civil war can start twice before having ended or paused once?

No ceasefire, truce or armistice has been reported on by the media, neither have the conduct or events of the Iraqi civil war that agencies like CBS news reported on in 2005. In fact, the warring factions listed by those who supporting the "Iraq civil war" version of history (factions like Sunni groups-both secular and sectarian, Shiah followers of various clerics, and such) have been participating in elections, negotiations and other projects which seem unlikely to move forward during nine months of civil war. Shiah leaders are appealing for calm. I can't help but wonder why the media is willing to tar every Shiah with the responsibility of the revenge killings and forecast that they will quickly turn to whole scale civil war.

Nigeria is experiencing wide-spread violence in the open streets between Christians and Muslims (unlike the patchwork vigilante violence of Iraq) and the media has not called it "civil war" but refers to it simply as violence (when they mention it at all).

I wonder if anyone has ever charted the media's use of terms like "quagmire" and "civil war" and "continuous cycle of escalating violence" with events like elections and the constitution agreement. I also wonder if the media will notice that Iraqi security has been taking the lead during the violence and that elements of Iraqi society have been working very hard to overcome the trouble.

Not likely.

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