Monday, November 27, 2006

On Civil Wars

So ironic that the most barbarous and heinous of all wars are called "civil". If you like to sleep well, don't read any detailed articles about what is going on in Iraq. It is all horrible and it is certainly what we normally call a civil war. Baghdad is becoming a collection of battle fields, every house a potential target, every civilian a potential object for torture and murder. Families barricade themselves in, stay days and nights without sleeping, barter for more bullets, while waiting for the knock at the door. Waiting for death to come visiting.

Only the wealthy have a chance to get away, and even for them it might be too late. Then remember that all food must be brought into the city, and it's not possible to feel overapprehensive about the future.

As if this wasn't enough, Lebanon is at a brink of a civil war, too. Soon the whole Middle East might be in flames. There are deep historical, demographic and religious reasons for the hatred that wells up, but the United States involvement in the area has not exactly helped the cause of peace and democracy. You don't go poking into hornets' nests unless you want to get stung, and if you insist you should at least plan your retreat carefully beforehand.

But the Bush administration had nothing planned, except for the flowers the locals were supposed to hand the American troops. The current debates about whether there should be a timetable for leaving or any kind of plan at all and so on ad infinitum is just so much political face-saving. Nobody knows if any particular timetable would make a difference. Once the slaughtering starts it is almost impossible to halt. That much I have gathered from the history of civil wars.

And no, I have no smart opinions on what the American government should do about Iraq. All my smart opinions were used up before this war started, in a desperate attempt to stop it from getting started in the first place.

I really hope I am wrong about this post. I hope that peace will suddenly break out and that George Bush will be remembered as the great liberator of Iraq in all future history books. I really hope that. I do.