Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Is Iraq engaged in civil war?
The rumble seems to be growing louder by the week here in Washington, D.C. More and more political, military and international affairs analysts are saying civil war is already underway, or at least on the way, in Iraq.

Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds, they say, are girding themselves for a great battle for control of the country when and if coalition forces pull out. They are ready to shoot it out over old disputes, ethic rivalries, and the oil revenues that could make all of them, or perhaps only the winners, rich. What else can you call that, these analysts say, except civil war?

The White House, of course, sees it differently, and with reason. For starters, coalition troops, even while under constant fire, have in large part kept the various factions from massing large numbers of troops, gathering large quantities of big weapons, and launching broad offenses against each other, the hallmarks of a classic civil war.

In addition, there are political and security reasons to avoid any such admission. If full-scale, open civil war erupts and fractures the fledgling democracy, it will certainly be seen as a major defeat for the United States and Iraq would turn into a long-term staging ground for terrorism.

No matter what it is called, the situation is perilous for the U.S. military, for the Iraqis, for the future of the region. My question is this: Based on your reading of events, do you think Iraq is in a full-fledged civil war or is that term inappropriate?
Posted By Tom Foreman, CNN Correspondent: 9:46 AM ET
  45 Comments
Tom,
I believe that invading Iraq was wrong from the beginning and absolutely think that now this terrible conflict has become a civil war. I say this because of the execution type murders of civilians and the constant car bombs, etc. And I am worried about Michael Ware. He seems depressed when he reports from Baghdad. It would depress me to be there too besides scaring the bejeezes out of me. I hope CNN is taking care of the mental health of its foreign correspondents.
Posted By Anonymous Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 11:13 AM ET
Of course Iraq is in a full-fledged civil war and has been for quite a while. The number of dead Iraqi civilians,coalition forces (mainly our American troops) and Iraqi troops fighting against the insurgents have continued to increase in enormous numbers in the last 10 months alone. No one has an answer-neither our government, the current Iraqi government nor the analysists mentioned. Ask VP Cheney why this happened-he predicted in '91 that if we invaded Iraq a civil war would result.
Posted By Anonymous Michele, Reston, VA : 11:38 AM ET
In my opinion, Iraq is in a full fledged civil war. All three factions in Iraq are vying for control of the country and this will never end. Their differences are too great. The U.S. military can't control the situation, but they are preventing complete anarchy.

The United States should have never entered Iraq. Saddam was being controlled with sanctions and somehow, he managed to keep the factions in Iraq united. And as we now know, it was lies and manipulations of facts which got us involved in Iraq in the first place.

Now, we are stuck there. If we stay, U.S. soldiers will continue to die, and if we leave immediately, Iraq will fall into complete anarchy.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 11:55 AM ET
Hey Tom:
I don't think there's a doubt in the world that it is and has been a civil war for some time now. I just can't figure out why some are still denying it. If Iraq is being used as a political tool, I would think truth and honesty about the situation would win more votes. I also wonder if Mr. Bush really cares about his own party winning the election or not since he'll no longer have to worry for his own self. Every time he gets up to speak he dare not even mention the Iraq war lest he get booed off the podium. Now we have North Korea with all it's threats and testing of Nuclear weapons, and all he can talk about is Osama Bin Laden. How stupid does he think the American people are!!
While all this arguing is going on, Iran is liable to slip in and decide it all.
Posted By Anonymous Lisa Scarboro Ont. Canada : 11:58 AM ET
DUH, I'd say anarchy prevailed from the first day of looting after the fall of Baghdad the first time. Those who chose to live to fight another day didn't go to the mattresses to lick their wounds, but to organize. While the oil, borders and ammo dumps went unguarded with the search for WDM as a priority the 'natural alliances' were formed and armed. While Bremer, Chalabi, and Halliburton were organizing the great $ drain with troops chasing the 'deck of cards' the factions were solidifying. Just 'cause there has been three elections no government has been formed. Sounds to me that with a reality check this even fits the Military definition of CIVIL WAR.

Internally displaced, mass migration of the middle class, no stable base to support an economy, security 'ha', garbage-sewage-dead and wounded every where with US troops sent on Mission Impossible with the pile of rusted, busted equipment growing. OUR TROOPS DESERVE REAL LEADERSHIP with something beside stay the course. GOP: Goofed-up our priorities.

A Military Mom
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista : 12:13 PM ET
Defination of A Civil War:
A civil war is a war in which the competing parties are segments of the same country or empire. Civil war is usually a high intensity stage in an unresolved political struggle for national control of state power. As in any war, the conflict may be over other matters such as religion, ethnicity, or distribution of wealth. Some civil wars are also categorized as revolutions when major societal restructuring is a possible outcome of the conflict.
So is Iraq in full fledged civil war? I dont know, Im rather confused. You tell me.
Posted By Anonymous Valerie, Hesston KS : 12:19 PM ET
Hi Tom,
Of course they are in a civil war..If they weren't so full of hatred for each other, they would have had peace a couple of years ago. Perhaps the people of Iraq could look into a mirror once in a blue moon and take some of the responsibility for their own situation..It went from bad to worse, with NO ONE, holding the so called moral highground, including the insurgents..Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 12:40 PM ET
Absolutely.....so the U.S. not only is fighting in another country's civil war.....they started it!
Posted By Anonymous Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 12:49 PM ET
It doesn't matter whether or not we give insurgency the label of 'civil war'. The downfall of the constitutional government in Iraq would be a victory for terrorism. If we leave Iraq now, it would turn into a haven for terrorists. Shouldn't we be asking instead , "is it possible to get our military out before we're confident that a self-contained, workable, government has been established in Iraq?
Posted By Anonymous xtina - chicago IL : 12:52 PM ET
Although Iraq is not completely into a full fledged civil war, they are surely on the brink of one. The US military is now left with a tough decision. Staying in Iraq means high chances that US soldiers will be caught between or killed by Sunni Shia attacks. Eventually when the US does decide to leave, the age old tension and ethnic differences will still be present amid Iraqis. Whether our military is there or not, a power struggle in this region will remain constant and seems likely to eventually escalate to a "full-fledged civil war".
Posted By Anonymous Emy Toledo OH : 1:00 PM ET
People are dying does it matter what we call it ?
Posted By Anonymous Marcy, Mobile, AL : 1:04 PM ET
Of course, Iraq is presently in civil war. How else could you define the current happenings?

We would be fooling ourselves if we think and say that we aren't. These stupid politicians have a vested interest in denying it.
Posted By Anonymous Sri, Piscataway, NJ : 1:05 PM ET
Yes, Iraq is in a civil war... Depressing depressing depressing... North Korea, Iraq, Osma Bin Laden, Sudam, 10,000 refugees coming from Burundi, let me see, have I missed anything? Is there anything else the US can take on or become involved in? I really do feel for Iraq, and have been a supporter of the "war" but we MUST bring our soldiers home... We have no business sentencing our American solders to death by sending them to Iraq to fight that country's civil war... Enough is Enough...
Posted By Anonymous Sherry Sarasota, Fl : 1:38 PM ET
We (the USA) walked into a situation, a country, a culture without any deep or extensive understanding of the long-term situation, history or simmering religious/ethnic resentments of the area. For good or ill (and I'm NOT saying he was a good guy; he obviously operated with terrible brutality), Saddam Hussein had kept a lid on civil war. When we invaded, we created the situation that led to the events we are now so tragically embroiled in. We cannot leave Iraq to a bloodbath of a civil war, yet we cannot seem to win the war we began.
Posted By Anonymous Annie, Fort Bragg, California : 1:44 PM ET
"Civil" war? That's the last thing it is. It's more of a tribal war and that's the main reason we should have never gotten involved. Tribal warfare has been going on virtually since the beginning of time in this part of the world. No western ideology is going to win out over the ever-present tribal mentality and religious zealotry of the Iraquis. It is long past time for us to vacate.
Posted By Anonymous A. Roy Olson, Tucson AZ : 1:54 PM ET
Why does it really matter if it is a civil war or not....it's still a war, people are getting killed every day whether they are civilians, insurgents, or the US military. How will we ever know how to end this war...we're too busy fighting instead of negotiating!
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 1:59 PM ET
Iraqi's are trying to engage in a civil war, they're just not currently as successful as they could be. Just like the Janjaweed and African villagers are fighting a lopsided civil war in Darfur, the Shi'a and Sunni militias are trying to "achieve" that in their own country. The Iraqis are impeded in their attempt by U.S. forces in a way that the Sudanese would be if the African Union force had teeth. For now, we are stuck there unless we want to see Iraqi deaths triple.
Posted By Anonymous Ronit, New York, NY : 2:15 PM ET
Without a doubt this has become a civil war and has been for some time. I guess the only way of not calling it a civil war would be for Bush to rewrite the definition of a civil war as part of his ongoing campaign of lies and manipulation....
This reminds me of the saga of an alcoholic. Nothing can even begin to remedy this situation until one actually admits that there is a problem, the first admittance being that we should never have invaded Iraq in the beginning and a long long list of others.
RIP to all the dedicated soldiers who have passed and to the many that will continue to do so.
Posted By Anonymous Jon, NY, NY : 2:35 PM ET
Why must we use politically correct terms to deny the obvious disaster that Iraq now is, and the Civil War in which it finds itself?

Of course it's now a civil war, however, someone has come up with a "brilliant" alternative to the obvious in political speak "Sectarian Violence". Doesn't that just make us all feel so much better about it now?
Posted By Anonymous Kelli, Oregon City, Oregon : 2:54 PM ET
I am sick and tired of people saying that the "downfall of the constitutional government in Iraq would be a victory for terrorism." Let's set the record straight. Terrorists were not in Iraq before the war started, but they are there now. If the Terrorists are such a major concern, then shouldn't one of our goals before we leave Iraq is to eliminate the Terrorists?? I don't hear anyone saying that we should root them out before we go, but I do hear a lot about how it would be a loss if they don't have a constitutional government. The real loss is if we allow them to stay in the country in the first place. We are basically telling the new Iraq government that the Terrorist are now their problem; don't let them get any WMD or oil revenues and good luck.

As for the question about a civil war in Iraq, yes it is happening and has been for a while. The people that don't want to admit it are the people that are trying to control the situation or benefit from it not being in its current state of Civil War (Input any Republican here or neo-con).
Posted By Anonymous Leroy, Phoenix, AZ : 3:32 PM ET
If by definition a war is a battle between two soverign states and a civil war is battle between factions within a state trying to wrest control, then by all means yes; Iraq is in the midst of a civil war. However, we have a war in Iraq that is pitting Iraqi governmental forces supported by a foreign military, fighting national insurgents who are being supported by foreign islamofascists. So, I guess the proper term would be, DEBACLE.
Posted By Anonymous Kyle, Odenton MD : 3:49 PM ET
To Jon in NY: Wrong! The first thing to "admit" is that Islamo-fascism cannot be allowed to prevail here the way it has in Socialist Europe. Who will stand up to terrorism if not us? Who will stand up to evil people if not good people?
Posted By Anonymous xtina - chicago IL : 3:57 PM ET
The Bush administration needs to wake up and smell the burning flesh. Yes, it is a civil war.

I was against the war from the start and remain opposed to it, but I think we need to actually send more troops in--acting more as police-- to ensure the violence doesn't spread any further and protect the innocent civilians. We also need to speed up the rebuilding projects and employ Iraqis in that rebuilding so that more people will have some income and will be less likely turn to violence.

Remember the lessons of Hezbollah and Hamas? Not nice guys, but damn if they don't know how to win hearts and minds (ya know, at least those they don't try to kill) by bribing civilians with services, projects, and money. Well, the US isn't particularly loved in Iraq, so maybe more services and security will help do the trick; as the infrastructure becomes more stable, hopefully the society will follow suit.
Posted By Anonymous Norah, West Chester, PA : 4:33 PM ET
to Leroy in Phoenix AZ: the whole idea is to fight the terrorists far away from -- hmm, let's say New York City. Don't people get that no attacks on US soil for five years is due to "taking the fight outside", so to speak. The plan is to disable terrorists from operating anywhere. Just because it's hard to find the evil doesn't mean that we aren't obligated to try.
Posted By Anonymous xtina - chicago IL : 4:39 PM ET
To tina of chicago,IL:"Who will stand up to evil people if not good people?" pls define good and evil people. God Almighty! when will people like you wake up? What gives you the right to decide who is good or evil? Standing up against terrorism doesn't mean going to a country and destroying it, standing up doesn't mean sending our troops to harms way without a blink,standing up doesn't mean lying about terrorists. You think going to iraq and taking out saddam was an act of standing up against terrorism? if so good luck my dear, you have a long way to go! There are dictators like Saddam everywhere and I can name more than a couple of them whom our very american and "standing up" government created and supported and still does.So pls educate yourself before posting comments like this. You my friend have a long way to go indeed.
Posted By Anonymous ceeba,los angels,CA : 4:47 PM ET
I think that removing Saddam was a task that needed to be done. However, since the removal there has been little to no actual attempt at repairing this government. The civil war was bound to happen due to the history of violence in this country. Today, I see nothing but car bombs, our troops being killed on an hourly basis, and very little changes to life in iraq for the civilians.
Posted By Anonymous Brad, Calgary AB : 4:58 PM ET
George Bush should leave Iraq as soon as possible, like Donald Trump said, "Declare victory and let's go home, like in Vietnam". Vietnam is a perfect example of what will happen if the GOP doesn't leave Iraq. We are hearing and watching (CNN, of course) that Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds are already fighting against themselves. Bottom line: George W. Bush, leave Iraq as soon as possible.
Posted By Anonymous Daniel Porres Guatemala, Guatemala : 5:30 PM ET
I wouldn't call it "civil", but it is a war. Maybe having US troops is keeping it down a bit, but I don't see how. What I do see are our soldiers being killed to protect innocents caught in the middle of chaos that no one seems to want to even attempt to control. I don't know that leaving a country to self-destruct is the answer. I don't know that the loss of American blood is, either. I know my cousin and friends are soliders who do their jobs. I know they have to follow their commander-in-chief. It would just be nice if that commander was a bit more rational than this one. We've been fed a line since this whole conflict was started. Why would anyone be honest now? I will say this. I don't care if it's not rah-rah bleed American. My cousin has done two tours and may be looking at tour three. His boys are under the age of five, and his wife has done this on her own while he's been over there. His life is worth more than this administration's politics. I don't see him fighting for the innocents in the DRC or Sudan. I don't see him fighting in any real terrorism hotspots. I do see that he fought for oil and to even a score started in the other Bush administration in the early 1990's. This president needs to fight his own vendettas with his own blood and leave ours alone to raise their families. If he's going to send our soldiers off to do their jobs, let it be for something of valor if they are to be permanently maimed or die.
Posted By Anonymous TA Cheramie, Berwick, LA : 5:43 PM ET
It's always enjoyable to have Xtina from Chicago offering her two cents. I don't even need to listen to the right wing radio anymore to see what the remaining 12 percent or so of Americans are using for buzzwords to defend their misguided values and ideas. Xtina, you need to move beyond the narrow minded talk radio mentality and actually educate yourself on the causes and realities of the current situation in Iraq. Supporters of the war are pawns for the corporations and bought politicians who benefit financially, and all the reasons you think we're there for are complete B.S. Americans need to reclaim our country before our remaining sliver of world respect is gone forever. As to whether or not Iraq is in a civil war, duh, of course!
Posted By Anonymous Bob, San Francisco, CA : 9:06 PM ET
I do not believe Iraq is engaged in a civil war. Thus I think the term civil war is NOT appropriate. While there is clearly an insurgency taking place within Iraq, there is also a global struggle of ideas going on over Iraq. I believe this struggle is over the future power position of the US along with her main allies. Oh yeah, and with greater emphasis, the insurgency is being fueled by a spread of Islamic fundamentalism....the eternal conflict over power and religion.
Posted By Anonymous Bill, Uxbridge, MA : 9:16 PM ET
I was against this war from the start. I have worked in the Middle East and knew it would be a disaster. Until the President and the GOP realize they have made a mistake, no hopes can be achieved on turning this around.

The solution to this problem in my mind, is to go to nations like Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other moderate Muslim nations and ask them to provide security, diplomatic and infrastructures forces so US troops can stand down in a country like Kuwait or Bahrain with an option to go back in if a true bloody Civil War breaks out.

That is the only way I see of salvaging what we've fought for in Iraq and appeasing the Muslim street.
Posted By Anonymous Eric Moore, Houston, TX : 12:00 AM ET
Hello- where is betty ann on this blog? I miss her. Did her 113 grandmother die? isn't that a story? Oh, hell, I just miss her blogs. Please inform. thanks
Posted By Anonymous Bill Summers, College Station, Tx : 12:28 AM ET
My son in law was killed Tues approx. 6:50a.m. Bagdhad time while on patrol by on an IED. This is the 3rd time he has been hit. The 2nd only occurring about a month and he received a concussion. Cleared,released, and out again and then killed. Why? We come from a small town town next to Fort Leavenworth KS. (a very strong military town.) What once was number now has hit home. My grandson almost 2 will never know his father. MY daughter is a widow at 21. Please Mr. Cooper will you please see this and get some attention to this. I watch you all the time and tonite I had to write. Thank you for your time. From a 40yr old father/Grandfather.
Posted By Anonymous Danny D. Smith Leavenworth,KS : 12:46 AM ET
The soilder are sitting ducks and its time to get them out of that country. Call it Mission incomplete. How do you explain this sniper shooting to the families that have to greave the death.
Posted By Anonymous Claude,Calgary, Alberta : 1:20 AM ET
Of course Iraq is now engulfed in a civil war even a blind man can see that.But what the"deaf,dumb,and blind American public cannot see is that the Sectarian divide pitting Muslim against Muslim is in fact a well thought out worse case scenerio contingency plan in the event America failed to defeat the insurgency.
Posted By Anonymous Naji Khalid Sayeed Panama City,Florida : 2:24 AM ET
Of course, it's civil war. Punctuated by spokesmen pondering the weighty question of whether we should partition Iraq. Now, who benefits from all this? Oil companies will be better able to negotiate their needs; the administration gets its Texas-posse vengeance {"He tried to kill m'Dad."]. And the rest of us? Two members of my family, and thousands of others, have served. Several thousand didn't come home; thousands more are maimed for life. To fight terrorism? Don't be stupid. Nine of the eleven 9/11 terrorists were Saudis. Now, why didn't we go after them? Hmmm.... Terrorists are not a nation; they are an ideology on the radical fringes of a faith. We are less safe today because we have given them more reason to hate us, not the least of which is resurrecting these conflicts in Iraq.
Posted By Anonymous Mia M.,, Philadelphia, PA : 4:16 AM ET
Yes there is a war among the 3 factions in Iraq. We made a touchy situation worse by keeping troops there to 'control the masses'.

Why not allow each group it's own part of Iraq (like 3 provinces or states) where they can govern as they please, with a federal government to handle matters that pertain to the country as a whole.

Seems to me that the federal concept is at least worth looking at more closely. I know there are naysayers, but no resolution will please everyone.
Posted By Anonymous Deb, Richmond VA : 12:30 PM ET
I am a Marine who has served two tours in Iraq. i dont see the news worthyness in showing a sniper attack. Most news agencies record the deaths on their websites in articles or actual name by name counts. What does watching a sniper shoot a US service member really do to provide me with news? Now I know what it looks like? In my opinion its sensationalism. You know you will get hits on your webpage because people are curious to see what it looks like. It is one more sad example of how the media has gone down the slippery slope towards reality entertainment. Where are the honorable journalists of WWII, or Michle Herr, Frank Flynn. Guys that reported the war without trying to make a buck off from it. I had a reporter once tell me that he faced the same dangers I did over there. What a load garbage. That reporter was there because he thought he could get a story. He, like many others scampered around the battlefield looking for the worst case scenario like a cock roach with a camera. And when something else more horrific happened on planet earth he was the first guy out of Iraq and headed to ...let say...New Orleans. Next thing you saw was this guy on the news standing in knee deep water with a floating body behid him making the most of the footage and crossing his fingers he could muster up some tears to make full impact on the viewer. That is the same type of cowardly money grubbing that got CNN to post this video. Where is the "news" in this?
Posted By Anonymous Robert, Alexandria, VA : 2:27 PM ET
CNN always shows footage of airforce pilots attacking and destroying their targets. What's the difference?
Posted By Anonymous Sam, Tampa FL : 2:33 PM ET
Not yet a full-fledged civil war but it is in its incipient stage and will become full-fledged within 12 months.
Posted By Anonymous Bob Nelson, St. Paul, MN : 3:20 PM ET
Does it matter what you call the situation in Iraq? You may as well debate "How many Angels can dance on the head of a pin?"
Posted By Anonymous Bill Carpenter, Aspen, CO : 3:22 PM ET
Thank you for you tenacious pursuit of the Iraq Conflict. Last year I was mobilized by the President to fly wounded out of Iraq to Germany and back home. We need more photographs of coffins in Dover, not less. If CNN can�t refocus the debate at least you can be the witness to our madness.

For every American killed there are a dozen maimed for life.

I am ashamed of the Administration's actions. The preemptive war on a country that has never threatened us much less attacked us, the �irrefutable evidence� of WMD, the secret CIA prisons and rejection of the Geneva Conventions, and convincing ourselves that near drowning isn�t torture. The Administration is right that we are about to turn the corner- unfortunately it is into the kill zone of a sniper bullet.

Our policies and behavior have created enemies faster than we can kill them. If the TSA went away tomorrow would we be any less safe? Will our decision to remain in Anbar Province enhance security for America? Unlike Gulf War I we ran towards the cliff alone. The geniuses at the White House can only advise that we �stay the course�.
Posted By Anonymous David S. Ball, Charleston, SC : 3:39 PM ET
Simple question, simple answer. Yes. We broke it, we are responsible for it, and we are doing everything we can to keep it from making us look bad. Too late.
Posted By Anonymous Michael Hurd, Corning, NY : 12:08 AM ET
I think they are on their way to a full-fledged civil war. I also believe that is why our presence. Those Iraqi's who do not wish to aid even in the smallest way the insurgents must feel that they have some level of safety in doing that.

Personally, I think the current administration needs to have a week long meeting with Islamic scholars that are US citizens and determine the best course of action to find a middle ground for a conflict in belief that has existed for at least a millenium.

The differences between traditional, and modern muslims, and Shiites go back to about 800.

The insurgent motivation is based on belief not on greed so finding a middle road where they feel somewhat vindicated would be the solution.

Whether you can mitigate a belief that has been in existence for over 1200 years remains to be seen.

And we need to focus on reconstruction and helping these people rebuild their lives. In times of war, people are loyal to those who feed and cloth them and allow them to sleep safely at night.

So to answer your question, I think Quasi Civil War is more appropriate, since only one faction is pressing the issue.
Posted By Anonymous Pat Golinvaux, Fulton, IL : 8:15 AM ET
No. Full-fledged would be much more violent. To think, however, that the 3 factions are ever going to live in peace and harmony may be fantasy. We are losing in Iraq because we have forgotten the number one rule of war. "He who throws the most lead wins" We have plenty of lead but not enough throwers. The only way to get enough throwers is the draft. Fat chance. In the meantime, the troops there are fish in a barrel.
Posted By Anonymous Mike Noe Maumelle, AR : 9:35 AM ET
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