Just what makes a civil war?
That's one of the big questions being asked this week. President Bush has said the sectarian fighting in Iraq does not amount to civil war ... But others aren't so sure.
Scholars say that civil war requires two criteria: first, the warring groups must be from the same country...fighting for control...and second, at least a thousand people must have died, at least 100 from each side.
But that's what scholars say. Politicians and military leaders see it differently. They are reluctant to use the "civil war" label, because it implies a country near chaos, or a policy near failure.
Yet Nicholas Sambanis, a political scientist from Yale, says there have been at least 100 civil wars since 1945. Iraq, he says, is one of them. And, he adds, it's one of the worst.
But in Iraq, the violence continues. The Iraqis are suffering. They don't care much about semantics -- or what term we use.
They're living it.
That's a page from my notebook.