How can you tell the TRUTH from a lie?
What would it look like? Donald Rumsfeld asks.The death and destruction itself is true, no doubt. But, how you characterize the facts and what you attribute them to makes all the difference.
Here on the streets of Baghdad, it looks like hell.
Corpses, coldly executed, are turning up by the minibus-load. Mortar shells are casually lobbed into rival neighborhoods. Car bombs are killing people wholesale, while assassins hunt them down one by one.
Is it civil war? "In Iraq it is no longer a matter of definition - 'civil war' or 'war' or 'violence' or 'terrorism.' It is all of the above," said one familiar with all of the above, Beirut scholar-politician Farid Khazen, a witness to Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.Reading through reams of "news stories" checkered with statements from "experts" and "analysts" gives you a feel for how to read between the lies.
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American military analyst Stephen Biddle says U.S. policy-makers make a mistake if they "miss the nature of the conflict, which in Iraq is already a civil war between rival ethnic and sectarian groups." Washington should work to broker a peace by allocating power and resources - that is, oil revenues - along those same lines, said Biddle, of the Council on Foreign Relations.
This is an express directive to Congress from CFR to get with the program. The civil strife is strategically in place, and now's the time to divvy up the spoils and re-engineer the geo-political boundries of Iraq.
Marr, author of the 1985 book "The Modern History of Iraq," takes a long view and sees revolution where others see civil war.This is no coincidence and it seems Iran now accepts the facts on the ground, opting to negotiate its role in Iraq's new political reality.
With the 2003 U.S. invasion, she said, "we have brought about two revolutions in Iraq." One was a change of leadership, the toppling of President Saddam Hussein. The second is a revolution in the nature of the Iraqi state: Will it survive, or break up into separate Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish entities?
"We occupied the country and not only removed Saddam, but the institutions and the underpinnings of government - the Baath party and the elite that ran the country, and the military - leaving a huge political vacuum," she said.
Political scientist Khazen, reached by telephone in Beirut, said he saw striking parallels between Iraq and the devastating Lebanese civil war of a generation ago - but differences, too.How you characterize a war is everything. For example, calling it "a war against the United States" implies active aggression on the part of those who oppose US interests, when this is NOT what's happening.
"For some people, this war in Iraq is a war against the United States," he said.
This so-called "war against the United States" is one fought in self-defense, not by "insurgents," but by people who refuse to surrender to belligerence and oppression, and not against "the United States" but against the corporate, military interests that have hijacked it.