Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Washington becomes hysterical again over an Iraqi 'civil war'

A civil war in Iraq is impossible, as I've said many times, because only one generation has passed since the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s. Here's some additional historical information. (7-Aug-2006)

Contents - This page
Mujahideen Shura Council
The Palestinian connection
What's "normal life" for Iraq?
How to do comparative history

Jounalists, politicians and analysts have been going through an orgy of hysteria the last four days over the supposed possibility of an Iraqi civil war. I don't know what I should expect. After all, drug dealers sell drugs, pimps sell women, and politicians sell crap, especially during an election season.

Related Articles

Iraqi 'Civil War'
Brookings Institution does a full reversal on Iraq war: As Americans withdraw from cities, Brookings admits there's no civil war.... (1-Jul-2009)
Stock markets in Iraq and Iran are surging.: Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says "it is the end of capitalism."... (17-Oct-2008)
On "60 Minutes," Bob Woodward makes ridiculous claims about Iraq.: He says the surge succeeded because of some magic new military technique.... (7-Sep-2008)
Iraq's Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr turns from arms to "culture": This follows several Sunni "Tribal Awakenings" to expel al-Qaeda.... (10-Aug-2008)
Obama continues to damage his candidacy with his Iraq policy.: Obama is hurting himself by bobbing and weaving on the success of the "surge."... (27-Jul-2008)
The new Iraqi "civil war" fizzles out, as expected: Radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a cease-fire on Sunday,... (1-Apr-08)
The Iraq war may be related to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.: On the first anniversary of the successful "surge" strategy,... (17-Feb-08)
Casualties are down sharply in Iraq.: This issue has been a spectacular validation of Generational Dynamics theory.... (31-Oct-07)
Washington Post says that al-Qaeda in Iraq is "crippled": Meanwhile, Iraqi citizens' political opposition to America is growing.... (16-Oct-07)
Antiwar Democrats are freaking out over Bush's Vietnam - Iraq war comparison.: The same people who have been comparing Iraq to Vietnam for years... (24-Aug-07)
Iraq: Suicide bombers interrupt celebrations in Baghdad over soccer win: Iraq's stunning 4-3 soccer victory over South Korea in the Asia Cup semi-final... (26-Jul-07)
The al-Askariya Shrine in Samarra, Iraq, is bombed again: Last year's bombing triggered months of vicious sectarian violence in Baghdad,... (14-Jun-07)
Congress votes to fund Iraq war without deadlines: The result shows conflicting anxieties during America's Crisis era.... (24-May-07)
Senator Joe Biden wants to move troops from Iraq to Darfur civil war: Saying on Meet the Press that we should remove troops from Iraqi "civil war,"... (29-Apr-07)
NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman shows ignorance and evasiveness about al-Qaeda in Iraq: In an interview that appeared on CNN on Sunday,... (24-Apr-07)
BBC kills an Iraqi war story because it's "too positive": But a drama showing British troops brutalizing civilians is perfectly fine.... (11-Apr-07)
Tens of thousands of Shi'ites protest against American "occupiers": In what appeared to be a grand, party-like atmosphere,... (10-Apr-07)
Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq : This is exactly the kind of thing that generational theory predicts. (1-Apr-2007)
New optimistic poll of Iraqi people barely mentioned on Sunday TV news shows: And Bob Shieffer on CBS's "Face the Nation" asked really dumb questions of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.... (19-Mar-07)
Robert Gates on "civil war" in Iraq.: Following the release of the Iraq National Intelligence Estimate on Friday,... (2-Feb-07)
News as theatre: NBC announces it will call Iraq war a "civil war": On Monday morning on the "Today Show,"... (29-Nov-06)
President Bush's reference to Vietnam War "Tet Offensive" has journalists in a tizzy: Airhead journalists have completely missed the point, and the real danger.... (20-Oct-06)
Learning-disabled journalists and politicians continue to predict Iraq civil war: Occasionally journalists take a break from their heavy-breathing over Congressional pages,... (8-Oct-06)
General John Abizaid says there'll be no troop cutbacks in Iraq: This is hardly a surprise to me, though not for the reasons most people give.... (19-Sep-06)
Debate over civil war in Iraq rages over semantics: An actual crisis civil war in Iraq is impossible, but it's now embroiled in the November elections,... (23-Aug-06)
Washington becomes hysterical again over an Iraqi 'civil war' : A civil war in Iraq is impossible, as I've said many times, because only one generation has passed since the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s. Here's some additional historical information. (7-Aug-2006)
Israel's war against Hizbollah and Lebanon forces Muslims to choose sides : The war is part of a larger Shi'ite-Sunni struggle, and a stopgap ceasefire will create a worsening environment leading to a much more chaotic situation within a few months (25-Jul-2006)
Journalists have a 'civil war in Iraq' orgy over the weekend: It's hard to remember when news shows had so much sheer non-stop nonsense... (21-Mar-06)
Fear of Iraqi civil war nears hysteria: But there is NO CHANCE WHATSOEVER of a civil war.... (24-Feb-06)
Bombing of 1200 year old Shi'ite mosque inflames Iraq to the verge of massive civil war rhetoric: Shi'ites conducted over 90 revenge attacks on Sunni shrines on Wednesday,... (23-Feb-06)
Vitriolic Iraq war politics erupts in Washington: But the basics of the Iraq war haven't changed a bit.... (21-Nov-05)
Iraqi Sunni and Shi'ite clerics call for restraint: Analysts, pundits and journalists are still predicting civil war, and they're still getting it wrong.... (23-May-05)
Brent Scowcroft predicts an "incipient civil war" for Iraq: Pundits are returning to wishful thinking as the January 30 election approaches... (09-Jan-05)
Al-Sadr's Shi'ite militia fighters turn in their weapons: The war in Iraq took a significant turn this week when the Shi'ite militias agreed to disarm,... (13-Oct-04)
The press is talking about another "uprising" in Iraq. Yawn.: Nothing shows more how clueless the press is about what's going on in Iraq than this constant talk about civil war and uprisings.... (7-Aug-04)
Iraq Today vs 1960s America (Revised): They have much in common: Bombings, assassinations, student demonstrations, violent riots, calls for insurrection and civil war and harsh rhetoric. That's much more than a coincidence. (8-May-2004)
What Iraqi Civil War?: Early in 2003, I predicted that there would be no popular uprising against the Americans, and that there would be no civil war. After the overthrow of Saddam, I said that an Iraqi civil war was impossible. Despite the constant near-hysteria of the politicians, journalists and high-priced analysts, I've been right so far. Here's why. (09-Apr-04)
Terrorist suicide bombings in Iraq may backfire against terrorists: During an awakening period, terrorist acts cause masses of people to shrink from more violence. (19-Aug-03)

As I've explained many, many times on this web site, a civil war in Iraq is impossible at this time, since only one generation has passed since the genocidal Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s. And in this article we'll present an additional historical analysis of exactly what the insurgency is.

Still, you'd think these guys would learn. These journalists and politicians keep talking about an imminent civil war, and have been wrong time after time after time

This has happened dozens of times since the Iraq war started in 2003.

The last time that the hysteria was this high was in February of this year, right after the bombing of the 1200 year old Shi'ite al-Askariya shrine in Samarra.

If you can remember back that far, you'll recall pundits saying that "Iraq was reaching a 'tipping point' for civil war," or "In the next few days the gates of hell may open to a new civil war," or "Iraq starts to spin out of control in day of vengeance."

And yet, here it is, six months later, and none of that has happened. No 'tipping point' was reached. The 'gates of hell' didn't open. Iraq didn't 'spin out of control.' These guys would have to be morons to be fooled again, and yet, here they are.

You'd think that these journalists, pundits and politicians might actually learn something, rather than make the same stupid mistake time after time, but expecting politicians, pundits and politicians to learn is really too much to expect. What's driving these stupid is politics, but I've never held the view that it's ok for journalists, pundits, analysts and politicians to make really dumb, stupid remarks just for political purposes, but that's what happens.

Now, what's actually going on in Iraq is pretty bad. The "insurgency" is killing dozens of Iraqis every day, using car bombs and other terrorist devices.

It's horrible, but what does that have to do with civil war?

A civil war would be where, for example, Sunni armies and Shia armies are fighting each other in open warfare, or where there are armies converging on Baghdad to overthrow the government.

Nothing even REMOTELY like that is happening.

As I've been writing about for years on this web site, a crisis civil war in Iraq is absolutely impossible. It would require millions of people in the generations that survived the genocidal Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s to forget what happened, and that's simply impossible.

Sure, you can call today's insurgency a "civil war" if you want to change the meaning of the term "civil war." But that reminds me of that old Abraham Lincoln quote: "How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg." And calling an insurgency a civil war doesn't make it a civil war, just because it benefits the journalists and pundits who hate George Bush to say so.

Mujahideen Shura Council

OK. So if the current insurgency is not part of an imminent civil war, then what is it?

Actually, what's going on with the insurgency is actually very well understood, and it has absolutely nothing to do with civil war.

There are huge amounts of money -- hundreds of millions of dollars a year -- pouring into Iraqi terrorist organizations to keep the insurgency going. A lot of this money is motivated by war against the "crusading infidels" (America and Israel), and a lot is motivated by the Sunni war against the Shiite infidels (Iran).

Much of this money is funneled through al-Qaeda. When Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, was killed earlier this year, a lot of people hoped that the level of insurgency would decrease.

Instead, it brought to life the Mujahideen Shura Council of Iraq, an umbrella organization of Iraqi terrorist organizations.

According to information I've received from an online correspondent involved in Army intelligence, the MSC receives funding from al-Qaeda, and also from organized crime activities within Iraq itself.

He says that kidnappings generate an enormous amount of revenue for MSC. "Some of [the ransom rings] targeted foreigners at first, but they quickly found that targeting Iraqi contractors was lucrative as well. Kidnapping for profit quickly became a daily reality -- just as in the rest of the third world. Almost every segment of the insurgency engages in kidnapping for profit, including Al-Qaeda."

He points to other kinds of organized crime, involving automobiles, alcohol, black market gasoline sales, theft and protection rackets. "In fact, the one thing that I was amazed by was the extent to which terrorist organizations (including Al-Qaeda) were involved in these activities. Once again, it's ultimately a matter of volume -- just like the mafia."

The Palestinian connection

Mideast, showing Israel/Palestine, Muslim countries, and Orthodox Christian countries
Mideast, showing Israel/Palestine, Muslim countries, and Orthodox Christian countries

Another reason why talking about the insurgency as a sign of civil war in nonsense is because Iraq is hardly an island. In fact, the Iraqi insurgency is part of the larger struggle between Sunnis and Shiites that's taking place throughout the entire region.

Take a look at the adjoining map, which I've posted many times before.

Al-Qaeda is a Sunni Muslim organization, following the (Wahabbi) Salafi-Jihadist ideology, largely centered in Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden originally formed the al-Qaeda to bring down the Saudi government, and engineered the 9/11 attacks because of America's support for the Saudis. Since then, al-Qaeda has spread throughout the region, into the Palestinian populations in Lebanon and into Iraq.

Just two days ago, a new video released by al-Qaeda's deputy head Ayman al-Zawahri says that Egypt's Gama'a Islamiya Sunni terrorist organization has now joined al-Qaeda.

The Palestinian connection is particularly important, since many of the suicide bombers in Iraq have been drawn from Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Lebanon.

Looking again at the above map, note that Iraq lies between Iran and Lebanon. Just as Saudi Arabia is the center of Arab and Sunni terrorism, Iran is the center of Persian and Shiite terrorism. Hizbollah is a Shiite-Lebanese organization, which automatically puts it in conflict with Sunni Palestinian organizations.

That means that Iraq is automatically going to be at the center of any struggles between Sunni and Shiite terror organizations. But that doesn't mean that Iraqi citizens want to go to war with each other.

That's very evident just from the fact that Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites united with each during the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s. That was a genocidal war between Iraqis and Iranians, not between Sunnis and Shiites. There is violence between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq because there is competition between Sunnis and Shiites in the entire region.

Incidentally, the competition between al-Qaeda and Hizbollah extends beyond Lebanon. Hizbollah is also spreading to Saudi Arabia and around the region, and it has branches as far away as Indonesia and North America.

What's "normal life" for Iraq?

Here's another remarkable fact that these Washington ding-dongs could have discovered for themselves if they'd only bothered to study a little of the history of Iraq. What we're about to see is that the insurgency and chaos going on in Iraq today is a normal, typical state of affairs for Iraq.

The concept of "normal life" in Iraq is different from normal life in America and many other countries. In order to understand "normal life" in Iraq, analysts look to history to see how life used to be.

What you hear most often, especially from politicians and partisan analysts, is that before the 2003 war, there was no insurgency and no sectarian car bombs. What these politicians don't mention is that Saddam Hussein kept the population under control with a hard-core Sunni police force that never hesitated to handle dissidents by putting them into meat grinders.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, if you want to understand "normal life" in Iraq today, you have to compare life today to life in a comparable historical period, and a comparable historical period has to be at the same point in the generational timeline.

Today Iraq is one generation past its last generational crisis war, the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s. Iraq's previous crisis war was the Great Iraqi Revolution of 1920 that concluded Iraq's participation in World War I and the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. So the most appropriate historical period to look at is Iraq in the 1930s, to see how life then compares to life today.

The Library of Congress (LOC) history of Iraq was written in the 1980s, so we can feel confident that it wasn't influenced by today's political battles. The chapters World War I and the British Mandate and Iraq as an Independent Monarchy describe in detail what "normal life" was in Iraq during the generations following the 1920 revolution.

Britain took control of (what was to become) Iraq during WW I, and tried to administer it (much like what America tried to do in 2003).

I've extracted some paragraphs from the LOC history below. Take a couple of minutes to read these paragraphs, and what you see might even amaze you: The description of life in Iraq in the 1930s is almost identical to life in Iraq today.

According to the LOC history:

The British tried to thwart these efforts, leading to the revolution:

The situation didn't get much better throughout the 1920s. Iraq became a sovereign state in 1932, and here's what happened next:

You should go on and read this history of Iraq for yourself, because here's the important point: If you change "British" to "American," and change a few of the names, then there's no difference between then and now.

What's going on in Iraq today is "normal life" for Iraq. But there was NO CIVIL WAR then, and there will be NO CIVIL WAR today.

How to do comparative history

The hysteria going on in Washington these days is typical of the behavior of politicians, and with our midterm elections still two months away, we can expect our politicians to continue saying moronic things over and over for at least two months, and after that as well. One thing we definitely won't see for the next two months, and after that as well, is a civil war in Iraq.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, if you want to predict where a society is going, you have to look back in history to similar places on the generational timeline. Since Iraq is now in a generational awakening era, you need to look back at Iraq and other societies at times they were also in a generational awakening era.

There are two historical records we can conveniently examine.

First is the history of Iraq, such as the Library of Congress history quoted above, during the decades following the 1920 Great Iraqi Revolution. The turmoil and chaos that embroiled Iraq throughout that time is just the way that Iraq is, and it's almost identical to the kind of turmoil and chaos occurring today.

Second is the history of America in the 1960s and 1970s, which is comparable to Iraq today because it was also in a generational awakening period, just one generation past World War II.

Tens of thousands of Shiites have pro-Hizbollah anti-American riots in Bagdad, Iraq <font size=-2>(Source: CNN)</font>
Tens of thousands of Shiites have pro-Hizbollah anti-American riots in Bagdad, Iraq (Source: CNN)

The article that I wrote in 2004 comparing 1960s America with today's Iraq compares the massive rioting and terrorism that occurred in America with the rioting we're seeing today in Iraq. This is typical of all countries and societies at all times in history: The survivors of a genocidal crisis war vow that nothing like that should ever happen to their children or grandchildren, and their children, born after the war, refuse to conform to the austere rules of their parents. This results in a "generation gap," and massive riots and demonstrations. That's what happened in Iraq in the 1930s and 1940s, to America in the 1960s and 1970s, and it's happening to Iraq again today.

There's another historical parallel to consider. World War II was a non-crisis war for Iraq, and yet parts of World War II took place on Iraqi soil. Iraq was too centrally placed in the world to be able to avoid war.

The same is true today. We're headed for a "clash of civilizations" world war with 100% certainty. It will be a non-crisis war for Iraq, just as WW II was, but parts of the war will take place on Iraqi soil.

In the Mideast region, the clash of civilizations world war will have two components: Palestinians versus Israelis and Sunnis versus Shiites. It's impossible to predict exactly how these two components will interplay with one another, but it's certain that both components will be present.

In fact, that's already begun. The insurgency that's been growing in Iraq is part of the same war that's been growing throughout the region and around the world.

We need to be preparing for that war, but it doesn't help when our journalists, politicians and analysts act like hysterical morons for purely political purposes.

Copyright © 2002-2016 by John J. Xenakis.