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Despite what you read in some headlines or hear in the electronic media, the recently released National Intelligence Estimate does not call the situation in Iraq a “civil war.”  It describes the scenario as something far worse.

The Intelligence Community judges that the term “civil war” does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, al-Qa’ida and Sunni insurgent attacks on Coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence.

National Security Adviser Steven Hadley reflected the Bush administration’s refusal to accept the term “civil war.” “We need to get across the complexities of the situation we face in Iraq and what is our strategy to deal with that, and simple labels don’t do that,” he said.  

I have a perfect simple label for the Iraq fiasco, one I started applying some time ago: “Hobbesian conflict.”

Secretary of Defense Bob Gates thinks “…there are four wars going on in Iraq right now.”  I’d say that’s a gross underestimate.  The conflict in Iraq has more sides than the Pentagon.  Gates cites: “…a Shia-on-Shia conflict in the south, sectarian violence particularly in Baghdad but also in Diyala and a couple of other provinces, an insurgency, and al-Qaida.”

Gates left out a few other angles of the conflict: Shias-on-U.S. forces, the other Shias on U.S. forces, the Sunnis on U.S. forces, insurgents on U.S. forces, and al-Qaeda on U.S. forces.

And oh, yeah, the Iranians are stirring the pot too.  Maybe.  

Iran Away

The administration was all set to present “proof” that Iran is behind the troubles in Iraq, but they backed down.  From the Los Angeles Times:

U.S. can’t prove Iran link to Iraq strife: Despite pledges to show evidence, officials have repeatedly put off presenting their case.

WASHINGTON–Bush administration officials acknowledged Friday that they had yet to compile evidence strong enough to back up publicly their claims that Iran is fomenting violence against U.S. troops in Iraq.

In other words, they’re out of feathers to blow up our skirts because they’ve run out of bulls to pluck.  

Or have they?

On Friday, Gates said, “The president has made clear, the secretary of State has made clear, I’ve made clear…we are not planning for a war with Iran.”

But as Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker and Larisa Alexendrovna of Raw Story and others have revealed, the Iran war plan has been in the can for quite some time.  

And why the so-called naval buildup in the Gulf region as a “warning” to Iran if the warning is “Don’t worry, we’re just playing patty cake?”  

It’s little wonder that China, Russia and Europe don’t back our Middle East policies.  Even the Englishmen  won’t go out in the midday sun with us any more.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia.  Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.

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