When a civil war is not a civil war

Tim Grieve over at Salon usually does a wonderful job of hitting the meaty centre of issues with his choice of quotes, and some of the quotes from US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley today certainly qualify. Go ad have a look at the complete exchange that Grieve has quoted for more of the context, but I thought the following quote was particularly interesting …

Hadley: One of the things that is helpful — and this is on Page 2 — is a statement that the intelligence community judges that the term “civil war” does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq. And we think that is right.

Are you sure that’s the case you want to make Mr. Hadley? Lets parse that a little bit, shall we? The reason, according to Mr. Hadley above, that the administration shies away from describing the situation in Iraq as a civil war is because it’s, in fact, worse, or more complex, than a civil war? Is it a good argument to make that the term civil war isn’t appropriate for Iraq because that term is too positive a description? Is it REALLY the administration’s position that we should avoid the term civil war because it doesn’t fully capture the chaos and terror of the situation?

I mean, I suppose its possible Hadley meant precisely those things, but I doubt it, lol. We all know that what he is saying is true, and its nice to hear an administration official admit it. But its hardly support for Mr. Bush’s policies to admit that ‘civil war’ doesn’t quite capture the full extent of the horrors that the situation in Iraq comprises. I doubt he really intended to admit that, but that’s the funny thing about language … very often, we say things we never intended to, just in our choice of words.

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One Response

  1. I do not know of any war that is ‘civil’, so maybe this is a ‘uncivil’ war.

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