Some people are claiming that what is going on in Iraq fits the Webster's Definition of Civil War, which is a generalized one. Let's use the Dictionary.com one for this:
Yes, quite inexact for Military needs, but a good 'rule of thumb' for Civilians. Let us take a look at some military definitions of conflicts provided by Global Security, as they have a nice and succinct roundup:civil warn.
1. A war between factions or regions of the same country.
2. A state of hostility or conflict between elements within an organization: “The broadcaster is in the midst of a civil war that has brought it to the brink of a complete management overhaul” (Bill Powell).
3. Civil War The war in the United States between the Union and the Confederacy from 1861 to 1865. Also called War Between the States.
4. Civil War The war in England between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists from 1642 to 1648.n.
- a) A state of open, armed, often prolonged conflict carried on between nations, states, or parties.
b) The period of such conflict.
The techniques and procedures of war; military science.
- a) A condition of active antagonism or contention: a war of words; a price war.
b) A concerted effort or campaign to combat or put an end to something considered injurious: the war against acid rain.1: the waging of armed conflict against an enemy; "thousands of people were killed in the war" [syn: warfare]2: a legal state created by a declaration of war and ended by official declaration during which the international rules of war apply; "war was declared in November but actual fighting did not begin until the following spring" [syn: state of war] [ant: peace]3: an active struggle between competing entities; "a price war"; "a war of wits"; "diplomatic warfare" [syn: warfare]4: a concerted campaign to end something that is injurious; "the war on poverty"; "the war against crime" v : make or wage war [ant: make peace][Middle English warre, from Old North French werre, of Germanic origin. See wers- in Indo-European Roots.]
Word History: The chaos of war is reflected in the semantic history of the word war. War can be traced back to the Indo-European root *wers-, “to confuse, mix up.” In the Germanic family of the Indo-European languages, this root gave rise to several words having to do with confusion or mixture of various kinds. One was the noun *werza-, “confusion,” which in a later form *werra- was borrowed into Old French, probably from Frankish, a largely unrecorded Germanic language that contributed about 200 words to the vocabulary of Old French. From the Germanic stem came both the form werre in Old North French, the form borrowed into English in the 12th century, and guerre (the source of guerrilla) in the rest of the Old French-speaking area. Both forms meant “war.” Meanwhile another form derived from the same Indo-European root had developed into a word denoting a more benign kind of mixture, Old High German wurst, meaning “sausage.” Modern German Wurst was borrowed into English in the 19th century, first by itself (recorded in 1855) and then as part of the word liverwurst (1869), the liver being a translation of German Leber in Leberwurst.
civil war: A war between factions of the same country; there are five criteria for international recognition of this status: the contestants must control territory, have a functioning government, enjoy some foreign recognition, have identifiable regular armed forces, and engage in major military operations.So, does what we are seeing in Iraq fit this definition? No, it does not as the sectarian militias do not control territory, have a functioning government nor enjoy foreign recognition or have identification marks or engage in major military operations. Thus, this is not a Civil War.
Is it Guerrilla Warfare? Let's see:
guerrilla warfare: Military and paramilitary operations conducted in enemy held or hostile territory by irregular, predominantly indigenous forces. See also unconventional warfare. (JCS Pub 1-O2)Again it is military and paramilitary operations, so it is plausible on the paramilitary side *if* those doing such operations wear insignia or identifiers. Now this can *also* be conducted by irregular forces, which the sectarian militias do qualify *if* they wear identifiers. But, they don't. So Guerrilla War does not fit so far. But perhaps Unconventional Warfare is a better fit?
paramilitary forces: Forces or groups which are distinct from the regular armed forces of any country, but resembling them in organization, equipment, training, or mission. (JCS Pub 1-02)
Here is Unconventional Warfare:
unconventional warfare: A broad spectrum of military and paramilitary operations conducted in enemy-held, enemy-controlled or politically sensitive territory. Unconventional warfare includes, but is not limited to, the interrelated fields of guerrilla warfare, evasion and escape, subversion, sabotage, and other operations of a low visibility,covert, or clandestine nature. These interrelated aspects of unconventional warfare may be prosecuted singly or collectively by predominantly indigenous personnel, usually supported and directed in varying degrees by an external source or sources during all conditions of war or peace. (JCS Pub 1-02) Also called UW.Well, this is certainly a 'cats and dogs' category, but serviceable nonetheless. But the stress here is upon the low visibility stuff, so big old bombs going off can fit, but really don't give a great feeling that subversion or sabotage is being used. Notice that this is usually considered orthogonal warfare, or approaching something by indirect means not through conventional means. Again, note that it is military and paramilitary, so identifiers are required along with governmental control.
Much has been made of Insurgency, so let us take a look at that:
insurgency: An organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through use of subversion and armed conflict.(JCS Pub 1-02)Yes, this fits as it does not mention regularization of forces. So first definition for the ongoing problems in Iraq: #1 Insurgency.
Just going alphabetically we come to Intimidation:
intimidation: The attempt to prevent an unwanted action by individuals, groups, or governments by the use of threats or by other means.Yes! Another winner on this as it does not require regularized forces.
So, we also can add: #2 Intimidation
Ahhh... a favorite of mine is Low Intensity Conflict:
low intensity conflict: Political-military confrontation between contending states or groups below conventional war and above the routine, peaceful competition among states. It frequently involves protracted struggles of competing principles and ideologies. Low intensity conflict ranges from subversion to the use of armed force. It is waged by a combination of means,employing political, economic, informational, and military instruments. Low intensity conflicts are often localized, generally in the Third World, but contain certain regional and global security implications. Also called LIC. (JCS Pub 1-02)Ah, the states or groups proviso, lovely! Throw in groups that have political affiliation and sectarian alignment and have unaccountable militias and you get a Low Intensity Conflict. Below War, Civil War, Guerrilla War, but above Unconventional War. This can be COMBINED with Insurgency and Intimidation.
So, add this: #3 Low Intensity Conflict
A side definition, but worthy of putting in is Players:
players: Participants or active parties in a conflict.There are a passel of those in Iraq!
So add this: #4 Players (and lots of them)
And one of the Players can be Professional Terrorists:
professional terrorists: Persons who earn their living by terrorism,with or without commitment to a political cause. They are frequently emotionally addicted to excitement, violence, and intrigue; ideology is not a dominating factor in their motivation.Which, in this case, is al Qaeda, or however I spell it today, to a certain extent and such folks as hired Chechens and others being paid to work in Iraq. Also note the presence of Hezbollah (or whatever that spelling is) near Syria and some sightings in and around Basra, as they would qualify not having a stake in this but working at the direction of Iran.
This becomes: #5 Professional Terrorists
Now I will skip over Propaganda, as there is certainly more than enough of that floating around in Peacetime. But Psychological Operations needs a look-see:
psychological operations: Planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign government, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of psychological operations is to induce or reinforce attitudes and behavior favorable to the originator's objectives. Also called PSYOP. (JCS Pub 1-02)Oh, my, yes there is a lot of that with beheadings, bombings of markets and the slaughter of children. How unfortunate that those Insurgents and Professional Terrorists choose those tactics.
Add this: #6 Psychological Operations
Raids and Remote Area Operations are ongoing, so need not be mentioned as they are part and parcel of things described so far. But a Resistance Movement has been claimed by many in Iraq as a form of legitimacy, so let us look at that:
resistance movement: An organized effort by some portion of the civil population of a country to resist the legally established government or an occupying power and to disrupt civil order and stability. (JCS Pub 1-02)Hmmm... *waving my hand in the air in the 50/50 gesture*. Have to give them that, although at this late date they are really having problems on justifying the 'occupation' portion and having to be held accountable to a real government.
Put that into the kitty: #7 Resistance Movement
Skipping over Strike Operations, Subversion, Surveillance, Tactical Intelligence and Tailor, we come to Terrorism! Sounds interesting:
terrorism: The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against people or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives. (JCS Pub 1-02)Yup, another winner! Beyond the Professionals there are AMATEUR TERRORISTS around, as we have seen in Miami.
Put that into the pot: #8 Terrorism (general pro and amateur)
We handled UW as part of Guerrilla Warfare, so that we can skip and a few other things... Urban Area Operations are that given to Counter-Insurgency as the Insurgents are usually IN Urban Areas, so it is part and parcel of them, although a rural based Insurgency is also possible... but for Military Ops that is what the US, MNF and Iraqi Military, National Guard and Police are doing.
So that brings up the last item, which is Vigilante Group:
vigilante group: A group organized without government authority to enforce its own concept of law and order or to advance its own interests outside the established process of law.Which there are a number of that are tribal and familial based in Iraq with the leading cause of death now going to 'Revenge Killings' by same.
The list ends with: #9 Vigilante Group(s)
And what is it that I see going on in Iraq today? An insurgency using intimidation and terrorists, while competing with professional terrorists and other players such as amateur terrorists, resistance movements and vigilante groups, for headline space to conduct National and International PSYOPS so as to destabilize the government or cause a Civil War to come about, all of which adds up to a Low Intensity Conflict of diverse factions with diverse goals, although using similar means and methods to achieve those goals.
Note that this has not reached the military level of even a Guerrilla War to even say Civil War. And while some means are unconventional, they are not the main method of operation, so this is above an Unconventional War.
It is a *mess* but an understandable one.