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The writer is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem
I see in today's New York Times that President George W. Bush still declines to call the situation in Iraq a civil war. A couple of days ago, Kofi Annan, still Secretary General of the United Nations, said that the situation was on the verge of a civil war.
Annan's comment reflects the power of the United States. When the president says there is not a civil war, the man at the United Nations, even though he is not on the White House's "best friends" list, says that it is not yet a civil war.
My own perception is that the civil war started about the time of the media event some years ago when that statue of Saddam Hussein came tumbling down. For the American president, a "civil war" may require only two orderly armies fighting one another, perhaps one dressed in blue and the other in gray.
Whether it is a civil war or something else, the American army, with its British allies and a few others does not seem to be dealing with it effectively.
My own proposed solution, only partly facetious, is to declare a mistrial, let Saddam out, and give him a month or two to reorganize his security forces. The result will not be pretty, but is likely to end the mayhem and begin the rebuilding of the infrastructure. The price of oil will come down as Iraq's begins to flow in a more orderly manner. Thanks to the oil revenue, there will be weapons of mass destruction in that country, but probably not before the neighbors in Iran are stacking their own weapons of mass destruction. If the worthies of our world cannot do anything to keep the Iranian madmen from acquiring nuclear weapons, the prospect of them in Saddam's hands will not add a great increment to the threats we must all endure.
Whether it is or is not a civil war may have something to do with there being a misstep or a total failure in Bush's effort to produce democracy in Iraq. Among the motivations for groups fighting one another, and the foreigners, is their strong opposition to an American version of democracy.
Yesterday I heard a radio talk show that featured one of the Hebrew University's experts on the Middle East. He was critical about an American president who could expect democracy in Iraq. The host asked him why American intellectuals had not been more active in cautioning the White House. The professor said that he was not familiar with the intellectual scene in the United States.
The professor is nothing if he is not widely read. I interpreted his comment to be critical of American colleagues who lacked the wisdom or capacity to produce some reality in the aspirations of the White House.
My own perceptions are that American opposition to the war has focused on other issues: the cost in lives and treasure to the United States, the manipulation by Jews in and outside of the Administration to use American military in a way to help Israel, and the lack of success in stopping the killing, or rebuilding infrastructure without corruption in order to get the electricity, water, and oil flowing. If I missed a strong current of criticism about the aspiration to bring democracy to Iraq, I invite a response from anyone who wishes to provide me with a detail or two.
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