Monday, March 27, 2006

Civil War: The Iraqi and Palestinian Models

Apparently, it is now important to consider defining the killing over in Iraq as a civil war--or not as a civil war. I agree with Charles Krauthammer when he writes that "this whole debate about civil war is surreal"--but then he loses me when he continues:
What is the insurgency if not a war supported by one (minority) part of Iraqi society fighting to prevent the birth of the new Iraqi state supported by another (majority) part of Iraqi society?
But isn't what he is describing an insurgency, which is defined as, "an organized rebellion aimed at overthrowing a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict."

And then Krauthammer turns around and writes:
As I noted here in November 2004: "People keep warning about the danger of civil war. This is absurd. There already is a civil war. It is raging before our eyes. Problem is, only one side " -- the Sunni insurgency -- " is fighting it." [emphasis added]
Well, if only one side of an insurgency is fighting an insurgency--that is an insurgency, isn't it?

The whole think is pretty ridiculous, when you think about it. We live in an age when the word 'terrorist' has been completely corrupted, and now we're all supposed to agree on a straightforward definition of what a civil war is?

Meanwhile, what about the Palestinian civil war? No not the civil war in 1947--according to HistoryCentral.com:
During the period between the end the UN vote on partition and the end of the British mandate, Civil War broke out between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. Most of the battles during this period were won by the Jews.

From the moment the United Nations voted to partition, civil war erupted in Palestine. [emphasis added]
That is an interesting way of putting it, but no, when people talk about the Palestinian civil war they are referring to the currenting in-fighting among Palestinian Arabs, the one that is not generally talked about--except as something to be avoided by Israel making concessions to prop up the PA.

But something is definitely going on there. Back in January, following Hamas' victory, you had Hamas clashing with security forces, Palestinian police storming the parliament building, and Fatah gunmen posting a picture of Arafat and firing their guns in the air--and things were pretty lively over in the West Bank as well, with more clashes just last week.

Isn't that a civil war?

But while the fighting and killing in Iraq is over the direction Iraq will take, the clashes in Gaza and the West Bank are over jobs and political positions that are going to be lost, as well as an intense rivalry between Hamas and Fatah. Basically, it boils down to a gang war. It is a far cry from what Dennis Prager prescribes in Only a Palestinian civil war will bring peace:
A significant percentage of Palestinians do not want peace with Israel; they want peace without an Israel. If these individuals and groups are not fought by those Palestinians who want peace with Israel, peace is impossible.
This fundamental difference between the political war going on in Iraq and the turf war between Palestinian Arab groups is why in Iraq, Hussein loyalists who opposed the January 2005 election were, by December, urging their fellow Sunnis to vote and warned Al Qaeda to stay away--while Hamas, which is careful not to welcome Al Qaeda with open arms, has no grudge with them.

Al Qaeda knows that Iraq is a real country and a real democracy in the making, while Hamas is a kindred spirit--another terrorist group that will not play the games that Fatah did under Abbas, making sounds of peace.

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