Would horrible violence, called a civil war, have as much negative political impact?
NBC news et al has decided to call the Iraq violence a civil war. Words have meanings and there's a reason the Administration has fought so hard to keep people from calling it a civil war. An "insurgency" fighting the "democratically elected government" or a "battle against terrorists" has the suitable us verse evil vibe that Americans need to justify going to war. But a civil war between Sunni rebels allied with Al Qaeda fighting Shia miltia allied with Iran doesn't have any good guys. Suicide bombers against death squads. Can you pick the good guy? Certainly there is no one worth getting Americans killed for. If Iraq is a civil war the natural question is "What the hell are we doing there?"