CIVIL WAR…..Via Taegan Goddard, I see that NBC News has announced a change in policy:

For months now the White House has rejected claims that the situation in Iraq has deteriorated into a civil war. And, for the most part, news organizations like NBC have hesitated to characterize it as such. But after careful consideration, NBC News has decided a change in terminology is warranted ? that the situation in Iraq with armed militarized factions fighting for their own political agendas ? can now be characterized as a civil war.

Meanwhile, Niall Ferguson belatedly explains the dynamics of civil war to LA Times readers:

The majority of conflicts in our time have been within civilizations, not between them ? civil wars, not holy wars….The bad news, as James D. Fearon of Stanford University explained to members of Congress in September, is that withdrawing American troops from Iraq will only accelerate Iraq’s descent into the abyss. The worse news is that increasing troop numbers may only slow the descent. The worst news is that civil wars like these tend to last a long time. Of 54 major civil wars since 1945, half lasted more than seven years. And most such wars don’t end with power-sharing agreements but in victory for one side or the other ? often as a result of foreign intervention.

Does Ferguson then take the obvious next step and suggest that the United States ought to leave Iraq since it can no longer influence events in any significant way? No, he does not.

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