Bill O’Reilly had White House Press Secretary Tony Snow on the O’Reilly Factor today. They got to talking about all sorts of issues, from the foiled terror plot, to issues in Iraq. Toward the end of the interview, O’Reilly asked Mr. Snow if he saw the Sunni-Shiite conflict as a civil war. Mr. Snow said no because nobody was trying to cecede from Iraq.

Now, this entry is not to debate whether or not there is a civil war going on in Iraq. I just want to present the facts. Webster’s Dictionary defines “civil war” as:

a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country

However, Webster is not the only source that uses this definition. The Oxford Dictionary also uses pretty much the same definition.

a war between citizens of the same country.

If that wasn’t enough proof, Wikipedia explains things with a similar definition, though it gets more into the subject. However, as I know Wikipedia can be sometimes inaccurate, I looked at some other sources, both of which back up Wikipedia’s explanation.

Yes, a civil war can happen when a section of a country tries ceceding, like in our own Civil War. However, as is clearly shown by three sources, and two of them pretty trustworthy sources, that is not the only form a civil war can take. What is it called when multiple groups of people from the same country start a nationally emcompassing war, if not a civil war? I sure can’t think of a term.

I’ll now use a phrase Mr. O’Reilly often likes to use, or at least a paraphrase if it turns out I don’t get it completely correct. Mr. Snow:
Get your facts straight, sir.

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