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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Civil War Or Not?

Is a civil war going on in Iraq? Presidential Press Secretary Tony Snow says no. He defines "civil war" as a situation in which "people break up into clearly identifiable feuding sides clashing for supremacy within the land."

According to Snow, that's not what is going on in Iraq, but it does characterize what happened during the American civil war.

What? Will Snow say anything to justify his boss's policies?

By Snow's definition, Iraq clearly is having a civil war, but the United States did not. What we call a civil war in U.S. history was a war to stop a secession. Feuding sides were not clashing for supremacy within the land. Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee were not trying to conquer Washington and rule the United States. On the contrary, people in one part of the country were trying to dissociate from the other part and set up their own country. How's that a civil war?

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