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Cheney and the Civil-War Deniers

03/21/2006 09:18 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft said on January 6, 2005 that we may be seeing "incipient civil war" in Iraq.

David Frum misquotes Scowcroft and wrestles with TWN over the difference between imminent civil war and incipient civil war in early January 2005. While Frum's original post seems unavailable now in his archives and National Review diary, he took exception to Scowcroft's concern then about brewing conditions of civil war in Iraq. It would be interesting to know what Frum thinks today.

Last week, Iraq Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said in a BBC interview and in other interviews that "it is unfortunate that we are in a civil war." He added, "we are losing each day, as an average, 50 to 60 people through the country, if not more." As David Sanger of the New York Times reported, Allawi said "if this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is."

General George Casey Jr., Senior Commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer that the situation in Iraq "is a long way from civil war."

Vice President Cheney takes exception to Allawi and says he sees no evidence of civil war in Iraq. In fact he sess success.

British Defense Secretary John Reid also denies that there is a civil war underway in Iraq.

Australia Prime Minister John Howard joins the Cheney-led chorus of "Civil War-deniers".

My colleague Nir Rosen blasts through the spin from 'civil war-deniers' with a candid assessment of not only the Iraq civil war but comments on it spreading beyond Iraq's borders.

Rosen's concerns about spreading sectarian violence are reinforced by the Sunni/Shiite divides in many Middle East countries:

Saudi Arabia ~~ Sunni 89-90% Shiite 10-11%

Kuwait ~~ Sunni 60% Shiite 25%

UAE ~~ Sunni 81% Shiite 15%

Yemen ~~ Sunni 70% Shiite 30%

Bahrain ~~ Sunni 30% Shiite 70%

Lebanon ~~ Sunni 23% Shiite 38 % Druze 7%

Syria ~~ Sunni 74% non-Sunni 16%

(Source: "Islam Sunnis and Shiites," Congressional Research Service, 10 February 2005)

But the most interesting line on Iraq's Civil War recently came by way of a listserve exchange with Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, or "Kos" as much of the blog-reading world knows him.

Kos was profiled in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine.

I had written in an email that I thought that we had reached a point of real civil war in Iraq and added that "the only question is the temperature of the conflict. . .60-70 deaths a day can easily rise to 600-700."

Kos replied:

The Civil War I partly lived through, in El Salvador, cost 100,000 lives over 12 years.

That's an average of 23 per day.

The civil war in Algeria has cost 200,000 lives since 1988, or roughly 37 killed per day.

And so on. What we're seeing in Iraq is far more horrific than your garden-variety modern-day civil war. It truly, honestly, isn't a matter of debate anymore. As for temperature, it's already twice to three times as hot of some of the most recent, deadliest civil wars.

He's absolutely right.

Steven Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note, and is both a frequent contributor to Huffington Post and editor of Bolton Watch.