The War Of All Against All

A few days back, the Today show, speaking
for NBC News, declared Iraq a "civil war," and
said the network and CNBC and MSNBC would henceforth use
that term to describe it.

President Bush and White House Press Secretary Tony
Snow angrily

. A civil war, said Snow, is when

two identifiable armed forces war
with each other
for control of a government and nation. And Iraq is not

Contradicting Snow and the president are most
journalists and Colin Powell. Speaking in Dubai, Powell

"I would call it a civil war … because I like to face
a smart slap across the face of the
president who made him secretary of state by a soldier
who feels badly used by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the

Is this a matter of politics and semantics?

Yes, but it is also far more than that. Those who
insist on calling Iraq a civil war are consciously
undercutting Bush`s case that Iraq is

"the central front in the war on terror,"
we fight them over there so that we will not have to
fight them over here.

Believing him, half the country is convinced we
cannot retreat, cut-and-run, for that would mean the
terrorists win in Iraq and bring the terror war to the
United States. But if Iraq is but a "civil war,"
most Americans would say that it`s not America`s
war—let`s go home.

This battle over definitions recalls Vietnam. Those
who wanted to stay the course

in Vietnam
argued that it was the central front in
the Cold War against communism, which threatened
Southeast Asia today but America tomorrow. Those who had
supported the war, but concluded it was no longer worth
it, suddenly changed their story to declare it was now a
civil war and none of America`s business.

What is happening today is that those who once
cheered Tommy Frank`s march to Baghdad to

liberate Iraq from Saddam
are trying to rationalize
their throwing Iraq to the wolves that the invasion
unleashed. America`s elite does not wish to admit the
truth: that it has no stomach for fighting this ugly and
unpopular war into which it foolishly marched the United

The baby boomer elite arrogantly and
ignorantly led us into a quagmire, as their fathers did
in Vietnam—and now,

just like their fathers
, they lack the stamina,
courage and perseverance to see it through. As they
don`t want to be held accountable for losing the war,
they have seized upon the rationale that it was never
our war to fight.

Calling it "a civil war" is a cover for people
who wish to cut and run.

What is the truth? Is it a civil war, like the
Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, when Franco led his
armies out of North Africa into Spain to overthrow a
regime and end an anarchic situation where

priests and nuns were being murdered

seemed about to ascend to power? No, it
is not.

The war in Iraq consists rather of many small wars.
The Kurds in the north are seizing and ethnically
cleansing Kirkut in anticipation of a day of secession
that will give them a nation. Al-Qaida and the Baathists
in Anbar are fighting U.S. Marines to expel them from

Al-Qaida attacked the Golden Mosque and perpetrated
atrocities against Shia civilians to incite the Shia to
reprisals and ignite a Sunni-Shia sectarian war. Zarqawi,
before we got him, succeeded. He set off the chain
reaction that has now a momentum of its own.

The Shia initially backed the Americans and Brits
against the Sunni insurgents. Having won power, however,
they now are fighting each other over how orthodox the
regime should be, and whether the Shia should, like the
Kurds, break away and set up an independent state.

The twin pillars of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki`s
government are the U.S. military and Moqtada al Sadr,
mortal enemies who have fought bloodily before and may
well be preparing for a decisive Battle of Baghdad.

Iraq seems to this writer less a classic civil war,
like the Spanish and the Russian civil war between

"Reds" and
"Whites" from 1919 to
than a version of

bellum omnium contra omnes,
(the war of all
against all.) That is the Latin phrase Thomas Hobbes gave
to human existence in the

state-of-nature thought experiment
he conducted in


Even our War Between the States was not truly a civil
war. For the South did not seek to overturn Lincoln`s
election, capture the capital or rule the country. The
South wanted

only to secede
from the Union of

Abraham Lincoln

their fathers
had seceded from the England of

George III.

Yet, this argument about whether Iraq is or is not a
civil war is deeply consequential for what it exposes.
Our elite senses this war is lost, and they are
preparing alibis for their roles in what may yet prove
the greatest strategic blunder in American history.



Patrick J. Buchanan

no introduction
readers; his book

State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and
Conquest of America

can be ordered from