Iraq:  What's Wrong with a Civil War

Arthur Bruzzone

March 15, 2006

Both critics and supporters of the Iraq expedition are debating whether Iraq country has drifted into a sectarian-based civil war. 

Even conservative commentator George Will in a recent column wrote "The government is too weak to prevent private groups from pursuing coercive reversals of Saddam Hussein's various ethnic cleansings. And in the absence of law and order, Iraqis seek safety in sectarian clustering."  Put simply, Mr. Will is suggesting civil war.  

So it's what's wrong with a civil war.

Every major country has experienced civil war. In fact, no country can claim its legitimacy until it confronts civil strife, and overcomes it.  

Take our own country.  The seeds of civil war were present from the very birth of America. Once the Confederacy declared independence, the deadly rift was exposed.  Slavery was a critical issue, but the preservation of the United States was main focus. "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that," wrote President Lincoln in response letter to Horace Greeley. 

The present situation in Iraq is both a crisis and opportunity. Last year's dramatic Iraqi elections were a beginning.  Just as the victory of the American Revolution was only a beginning -- it was a victory of rebels over British forces.  Not until the preservation of the Union was won through one of the bloodiest civil war in history did this country become a nation. 

Now comes the real test for Iraq, and the outcome is not certain.  Keep in mind the victory of the Unionist over the Confederacy wasn't a certainty.  

Can the coalition government establish its legitimacy beyond the results of the election, and what does it mean for the United States.

The answer is critical for both Iraq and the U.S.  For Iraq, the very existence of that nation is at stake.  For the U.S., the war against radical Islam requires that moderate Muslims curb fanatical fundamentalists.  The coalition Iraqi government must find the miliary means to quell insurrection, and create an effective pluralistic system of government. If the Iraqi government succeeds, it establishes itself.  For the U.S., if the Iraqi government and military succeeds,  it serves as a model for achieving a primary U.S. goal in its war against worldwide terrorist - to suppress militant Islamic fundamentalists by empowering peaceful Islamic moderates.

The route for both these goals may mean civil war.  If the American experience is any guide, we should be hopeful that the blood letting will lead to a strong Iraqi nation and a major defeat for  fundamentalists.  For the U.S.. the victory will demonstrate how we will defeat worldwide terrorism  --- empowering moderate Islam, one nation at a time, as painful as that may be.