My second-least favorite academic, Juan Cole (I know, I still read him, even though his site is little more than a list of those who have been killed in Iraq) approvingly cites a U Mich study that defines “civil war”:
‘ That there should be a political controversy over whether there is a civil war in Iraq is a tribute to the Bush administration’s Orwellian attention to political rhetoric. By the most widely accepted social science measure, Iraq is incontestably in a civil war.
“Sustained military combat, primarily internal, resulting in at least 1,000 battle-deaths per year, pitting central government forces against an insurgent force capable of effective resistance, determined by the latter’s ability to inflict upon the government forces at least 5 percent of the fatalities that the insurgents sustain.” (Errol A. Henderson and J. David Singer, “Civil War in the Post-Colonial World, 1946-92,” Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 37, No. 3, May 2000.) ‘
(Note that it’s from a Salon article by the Clueless Professor – I won’t link to Salon, because I’m kinda torqued that they’d sell subscriptions by promising more Abu Ghreib pictures)
Hmmm. Gang warfare in the United States cost over 900 lives in 2004. 153 police officers were killed in the line of duty, and I’d bet a third of them were killed by gang members – so to meet Cole’s standard, we’re on the borderline of a civil war – even as crime rates hit all-time lows.
I’d better buy some more ammo…