Just what IS a civil war?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006
I have not thought this through, but clearly a whole lot of folks seem to be interested in a civil war but I haven't seen any really coherent discussions of what a civil war really is--I don't personally view violence perpetrated by one group against another as necessarily a civil war; clearly it could be a tactic as in the Algerian movement against France or the Mau Mau movement against Britain in Kenya. Is it a civil war if one group simply wants to force a group out of power? Did Rwanda have a civil war during 1993? What of the situation in the old Yugoslavia? And if there were an agreed upon definition, would that make any difference? (I am betting not). Just random musings.


terrye said...

Well in Iraq we have about 90% of the population on one side and about 10% on the other, that is not a civil war that is more like a massacre waiting to happen if the powers that be decide to go off on people.

A civil war such as the one here in the US or in England a few centuries ago are true civil wars in which two peoples both native to the country make an equal claim to governing it.

David Thomson said...

It is foolish to describe Iraq as experiencing a civil war. The deaths resulting from all of the violence since the liberation is far less than one percent of the total population. The available evidence suggest that Iraq’s economy is growing at a fast clip. The pluses outweigh the negatives.