When Is a Civil War a Civil War? (Original Posting 26th March 2007)

Here are some things to consider. There is no clear threshold to distinguish terrorism or low-level political strife from civil war. Yet, Political Scientists use the figure of 1,000 deaths to distinguish one from the other. Though some amend this to at least 1,000 deaths a year. Now considering these figures, since World War 2 there has been 125 civil wars with 20 on-going today. Or with the 1,000 a year figure, this becomes 90 civil wars since 1945! Now one considers Iraq with an average of 60,000 deaths per year making it the 9th deadliest civil war since 1945 in terms of annual casualties, of course it could yet move up the table. Now also consider that the average civil war lasted 10 years with over half of those lasting 7 years. All I am left wondering is when is a civil war called a civil war?

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