Friday, September 01, 2006

Meeting the stringent international legal standards for civil war

Wouldn’t you know it? On the Friday before a holiday weekend, the Pentagon released a report (pdf) saying that violence is increasing in Iraq, that “Death squads and terrorists are locked in mutually reinforcing cycles of sectarian strife” in which civilians are increasingly targeted, and admitting that the campaign to reduce violence in Baghdad has had no effect.

It admits that “Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq, specifically in and around Baghdad,” but gives this very comforting reason why there won’t be a civil war, or at least not something we’ll ever call a civil war: “there is no generally agreed upon definition of civil war among academics or defense analysts.” So the term has no meaning? Funny, because you seemed to think it had a meaning when you said on page 3, “the current violence is not a civil war.” It goes on, “Moreover, the conflict in Iraq does not meet the stringent international legal standards for civil war.” So that’s all right, then.

Did you know there were stringent international legal standards for civil war? Really, you have to dot every i and cross every t, it’s all “the party of the first part” this and “no implied warranty is created” that. Lawyers, huh? Take the fun out of everything.

Comment link, same caveats as before.

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