Yesterday, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was on "Face the Nation" and assured us, Iraq is not on the verge of civil war.
"I do not believe it has deep roots," Pace said of the insurgency. "I do not believe that they're on the verge of civil war."
Also on Sunday, on ABC News, another Gen. spoke out. This time it was Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, the former military commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He is quite clear; this is now a civil war.
"We're in a civil war now; it's just that not everybody's joined in," said retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, a former military commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina. "The failure to understand that the civil war is already taking place, just not necessarily at the maximum level, means that our counter measures are inadequate and therefore dangerous to our long-term interest.
"It's our failure to understand reality that has caused us to be late throughout this experience of the last three years in Iraq," added Nash
How can two professionals end up with totally different views of the same situation?
I think it goes back to the Amry's mission driven, can do attitude. When failure isn't an option you tend to avoid considering what failure looks like. Gen. Pace is emotionally invested in the success of the Iraq mission. He will not fail, so unless there are two armies in the field in traditional combat, he doesn't see a civil war.
Gen. Nash has the benefit of distance and a dispassionate appraisal. He has also commanded in an area where a low level civil war did become a full blown civil war.
So we have two experts, two opinions, and in the end it doesn't mater much. Insurgency or civil war, in either case it just means a long haul, with many more casualties.