Saturday, November 25, 2006

What's in a name? #2

The newspapers are playing coy with whether or not to call the blood-letting in Baghdad a "civil war." (See Slate Magazine 11/25/06 "Today's Papers: Very Black Friday.")

That's almost foolishness. The American "war on terror" ended a couple of years ago, as far as the Iraqi theater is concerned (we'll fondly remember the ITO, I dare say when the rest of the stuff hits the fan). What our "boots" are experiencing now is a ring-side, court-side, 50-yard line seat to a religious war; and it's a war in which we have a stake.

Just as did the other two religions of "the Book," Islam is going through a metaphorical growing spell on its way to institutional maturity. And we are appalled at the contemporary consequences.

It's acknowledged by most that we went into Iraq with insufficient knowledge of the total picture of Iraqi society. What we must do now is not allow ourselves to be mired in our pre-2003 thinking. Without understanding that the theocracy underlying the politics of the area, we will never be able to prevail in the fight against Islamic extremist fundamentalists.

The newspapers should stop being shy about naming what's happening in Iraq. A religious war, by any other name, is still a religious war.

The course of safety for our democracy depends on how we handle ourselves in this sectarian struggle, and let's not confuse the issue with continued references to terrorism as the nature of the carnage has changed.

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