Today's Presidential Press Conference (my emphasis):
Q Mr. President, thank you, sir. What is the difference between what we're seeing now in Iraq and civil war? And do you worry that calling it a civil war would make it difficult to argue that we're fighting the central front of the war on terror there?Yesterday's White House Press Briefing
PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, the plans of Mr. Zarqawi was to foment sectarian violence. That's what he said he wanted to do. The Samarra bombing that took place last winter was intended to create sectarian violence, and it has. The recent bombings were to perpetuate the sectarian violence. In other words, we've been in this phase for a while. And the fundamental objective is to work with the Iraqis to create conditions so that the vast majority of the people will be able to see that there's a peaceful way forward.
The bombings that took place recently was a part of a pattern that has been going on for about nine months.
National Security Advisor Steven Hadley:
As we've said, you know, the goal for Iraq remains the same: A democratic Iraq that is able to govern itself, defend itself, sustain itself and is an ally in the war on terror. But we're clearly in a new phase, characterized by this increasing sectarian violence. That requires us, obviously, to adapt to that new phase and these two leaders need to be talking about how to do that and what steps Iraq needs to take and how we can support them.If you've been watching the news lately you know that Iraq is getting worse and worse, by the day. It's horrific and tragic. Watch Michael Ware on CNN (really, you should watch it) describe what it's like in Baghdad right now. Bizarrely, all we can muster here is an argument over whether or not it qualifies as a civil war, as if we have a plan one way or the other. Even Jimmy Carter (who doesn't, by the way, consider it a civil war) thinks we "can't save them from themselves" in reference to the Iraqis. Sad sad sad.