Thursday, March 02, 2006

Defining civil war down

Via TPMCafe, Director of National Intelligence Negroponte explained that a civil war meant:
a complete loss of central government security control, the disintegration or deterioration of the security forces of the country.
Larry Thompson notes that this pretty much excludes the American Civil War. The central government continued to exist, and the security forces persisted, too.

And saying that Iraq hasn't got a civil war because the government hasn't lost control assumes that they ever had it. An unjustified assumption at best.

Meanwhile, Growing Threat Seen In Afghan Insurgency:
The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency told Congress yesterday that the insurgency in Afghanistan is growing and will increase this spring, presenting a greater threat to the central government's expansion of authority "than at any point since late 2001."

"Despite significant progress on the political front, the Taliban-dominated insurgency remains a capable and resilient threat," Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples said in a statement presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee at its annual hearing on national security threats.
On the other hand, Bush Makes Surprise Visit to Afghanistan on Way to India:

In a news conference with [Afghan President] Karzai, Mr. Bush said he remained confident that Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, would be captured, and that the Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar would be apprehended as well. The two are believed to be hiding across the border in Pakistan. "It's not a matter of if they're captured or brought to justice, it's when they're brought to justice," Mr. Bush said.
He keeps saying that, but things keep getting worse. Whether you call it a civil war or a bagel, Iraq is a disaster and Afghanistan is getting worse. It used to be that Afghanistan was something that, if you squinted your eyes and twisted your head just-so, looked like a success story for the Bush administration. Sure the Taliban and al-Qaeda escaped, but there was a functioning government. Now, the Taliban controls big chunks of the country and warlordism never stopped being the order of the day.

Is there any single policy that someone can single out from the past 5 years and declare that it's been an unqualified success? Other than, I suppose, the programs to move the Supreme Court decidedly to the right, to emasculate Congress, and to make rich people richer. I would argue that those programs are, by their nature, not without qualifications.