In a report released yesterday the Pentagon has admitted that at least some of the conflict occurring in Iraq can’t be described as anything other than “civil war.”

I guess somebody didn’t get the memo from the Bush Administration that you aren’t allowed to use the words “Iraq,” “Civil,” and “War” all in the same sentence.

“Some elements of the situation in Iraq are properly descriptive of a “civil war,” including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities and mobilization, the changing character of the violence, and population displacements. Illegally armed groups are engaged in a self-sustaining cycle of sectarian and, politically motivated violence, using tactics that include indiscriminate bombing, murder, and indirect fire to intimidate people and stoke sectarian conflict.

Much of the present violence is focused on local issues …”

The report goes on to show a graph that lists who the key destabilizing elements in Iraq are and what their goals seem to be. In each of three cases, the main goal seems to be to get American and ‘coalition of the willing’ forces to leave the country. But that’s about where they part ways.

The report does note that much of the violence (up to 80%) is centered in 4 of the country’s 18 provinces, and those provinces account for almost 40% of the total population. And it seems to verify the notion that while most Iraqi’s don’t want American troops in their country, they also aren’t supporting the violence that is growing around them.

“More than 80 percent of the population rejects violence against the government under any circumstance, and more than 90 percent rejects attacks against women and children,” the report states. “However, two-thirds of Iraqis express a sense that conditions for peace and stability are worsening, and the population is roughly split on whether the government is moving in the right direction to quell the violence.”

It’s going to be hard now for Cheney and Bush (and their chickenhawk pals and apologists) to keep pretending that America has some nobel mission in Iraq, or even a chance at having a voice in the future of the country, short of committing to an all out assault and forcing American-style democracy on a weary and unimpressed people.

American soldiers have no place in a foreign civil war, even if American policies ultimately are responsible for conditions that allowed that civil war to bloom. Bush’s new commanders have said there is no military solution in Iraq, only a political one. Bush’s ‘coalition of the willing’ has shrunk considerably, and the contributions of the remaining players are paltry to say the least. And now the Pentagon, heart and soul of the US Department of Defense (although we should really revert to calling it the War Department as the first presidents did, since that is how Bush has been using it) is saying Iraq is in civil war too.

I don’t buy the argument that we’ll be handing a victory to the enemy if we leave. In light of this report, I’d have to consider most Iraqi’s my enemy for that to be true. I don’t buy the argument that if America leaves we’ll be less safe either. Hell, the degradation of our military, our treasure, and our reputation due to our Iraqi involvement is what has made us less safe.

But since we have a chickenhawk administration and a new, Democrat congress more bent on rhetorical displeasure than on any real action to end the war, it looks like the American body count will continue to grow as our troops die in a conflict that no longer (if it ever did) concerns us.

(cross posted at Bring It On! )