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War Or Not War

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Just this past Wednesday (September 20th) I was watching this video posted on which showed Wolf Blitzer interviewing President Bush, insisting that Iraq is NOT is the throes of a civil war. Of course the balance of the video was clear evidence to the contrary, including the fact that the people Bush is talking to, are completely insulated and "... divorced from reality...". So today I pose the obvious question...

Is there or isn't there a civil war going on in Iraq?

Of course there's a civil war going on in Iraq. If there were any doubt, then this AP article highlighting the record civilian deaths certainly puts that question to rest. Here's a small snippet:
According to the U.N., which releases the figures every two months, violent civilian deaths in July reached an unprecedented high of 3,590, an average of more than 100 a day. The August toll was 3,009, the report said.
When more than 100 people a day are being slaughtered in violent killing sprees, how can anyone in their right minds say there isn't a war going on? Sure... there's no "war" going on... it's just a little "Sectarian violence". Riiiiiight.

Denial or Deception?

Clearly the Bush Administration is way off base, as they inevitably always are. Either they're in complete denial, which would mean they're utterly and profusely incompetent because everyone else in the world can see it, OR they're just trying to deceive and mislead us into believing there isn't a war going on. After all, it was THEIR trumped-up decision to start this whole thing by invading Iraq in the first place. Suuuure... the world's better off with Sadaam Hussein out of power. However, now 3000 people (mostly civilians) are dying each month in Iraq, and you can't blame that on Sadaam.

Bush and his cronies are absolutely trying to deceive us about the horrible state of conditions in Iraq. Here's another snippet from that article:
The U.S. military had initially claimed a drastic drop in the death toll for August, but the estimate was revised upward after the United States revealed it had not counted people killed by bombs, mortars, rockets or other mass attacks.
This is yet another example of how the Bush Administration manipulates the truth (of course, we know 'the truth' is always the first casualty of war). Here we see our illustrious government trying desperately to make it look like things are going well in Iraq... by not counting all the bodies. Gee, isn't that kind o' like fixing elections by not counting all the votes?

The Irony

Every day we hear about the "War on Terror". Terror. Yes, we're at war... against... an emotion. A faceless, abstract, enemy. But over in Iraq, where literally hundreds of people are killed each day, that's not a war. That's just a little "Sectarian violence". After all, we're not seeing all the good things going on over there! Yeah... we're spreading Democracy! Freedom's on the march!

The Torture

This is something I find particularly disturbing. In our country we've been going through tremendous internal strife around the level of torture we can apply to our prisoners. While the Bushies would love to torture as much as they feel is necessary, most of us are bending over backwards to show that we're a nation of laws, rights & protections. Most of us believe in the humane treatment of prisoners because that's how we would expect our own men & women to be treated should they fall prisoner to our enemies.

That doesn't mean we advocate for the pampered treatment of dangerous terrorists we've captured. What it does mean is that our laws SHOULD guarantee prisoners of due process. Our laws SHOULD ALSO guarantee oversight and checks-&-balances to ensure that the government doesn't get out of control. Without oversight, how do we know the government isn't detaining progressive bloggers and dissidents?

As much as I despise the Bush Administration, I wouldn't think for a second that they'd brutally torture any detainee for entertainment value. I'd like to believe that any 'brutal' torture they've carried out was in the interest of obtaining information, while any torture for the sake of entertainment (not condoning it, mind you) was somewhat less than brutal. They may have piled the detainees up naked or put undies on their heads, but that torture was largely psychological.

The aforementioned AP article refers to a report from the U.N.'s Assistance Mission in Iraq's Human Rights office. Here's one more snippet:
"Bodies found at the Medico-legal Institute often bear signs of severe torture including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances, missing skin, broken bones (back, hands and legs), missing eyes, missing teeth and wounds caused by power drills or nails," the report said.
First of all, I don't think our torture methods are nearly this brutal (although I'll gladly admit I'm wrong if someone proves otherwise). Secondly, whether this is a civil war or sectarian violence, how much information can either side expect to obtain from captured civilian prisoners? Probably not much. Unfortunately, I think it's more likely the case that it's their culture to capture, mutilate for maximum pain, and then kill. I don't know if it's more sad or pathetic.

So there you have it.... Iraqis committing horrendous and unspeakable atrocities on other Iraqis. And WE started it all because... well... we all know why.... because Iraq attacked us on 9/11.
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Scott Shuster is a progressive columnist, publishing since May of 2005. His liberal ideology is a refreshing diversion from 'politics as usual' in Washington.
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