Victory in Iraq

Friday, August 26, 2005

Victory in Iraq

Sometimes I love Cal Thomas.
The following lyrics should be sung to the tune of "Blowin' in the Wind."

How many times can this nation draw down,
When faced with a difficult war?
Haven't we seen what retreat has produced,
Whenever we've tried it before?

With polls showing a decline in public support for the effort to establish stability and self-determination in Iraq, aging hippies from the '60s and their anti-all-war progeny have surfaced and are picketing and singing their protest songs at President Bush's ranch and at venues where he speaks.
The president has repeatedly stated his objective in Iraq and in the wider war against terrorists. What is the objective of his critics and what is their forecast of what would occur following a precipitous U.S. withdrawal? They have an obligation to tell us, unless they are just blowing in the wind.
Um, first of all, you do know that you just used a famous anti-war protest song to mock people who protest war? You then rewrote those lyrics to be an anti-protester song? C'mon, Cal, what are the odds that in the 60s you believed that Bob Dylan was a dirty hippie? Perhaps even a commie pinko faggot?

Anyways, as for everything else Cal wrote in his column, he also touts the party line that we must stay in Iraq, "Pulling out of Iraq before the job is done is not an option. Victory is our only option." But I do have an honest, non-snarky question-- how does one truly define victory in Iraq? What is the job and how do we know when it is done? I was talking just yesterday to a friend who has three brothers in the U.S. military. (She opposes the war, her brothers are all over the map. Two of them voted for Kerry.) Over the past three years they've all been in and out of Iraq serving the long, dangerous combat tours that everyone always hears about. Recently one of her brothers told her that the one major thing that has changed since the beginning of the war is that the captured, wounded and dead were all Iraqis. But now? They're from everywhere but Iraq, he said he even "got" a Canadian once. So how far away is this inevitable victory if Iraq's borders are unguarded? Is it at all foreseeable that there is an end to the people crossing her borders to fight?

As far as I can tell, new Iraqi government or not, the fighting in Iraq could pretty much go on indefinitely. I know that a lot of pro-war folks like to think that those of us who have always opposed the Iraq war are now reveling in how badly things are going. I really don't think that's true. While I do take a small amount of pleasure in what I hope to be Bush's well-earned downfall, the whole situation depresses me because, frankly, I'm very deeply conflicted at this point. I don't believe we should stay but I also don't believe we should go-- yet. I think on some level we are morally obligated to do something other than cut and run. However, outside of establishing a new government there, no one has defined what "victory" would actually be. The same way that Bush refuses to set a timetable, he also refuses to describe how things would have to be for us to leave. I can't help but ask, what signs are we waiting for?

I'm among the ranks of people who have always feared and believed that our war will result in a civil war. Sadly, at this moment it seriously appears to be leaning that way more than ever before. I've said this time and time again, from the very beginning of the war, that the things that I fear will go wrong do not go wrong. I have perpetually hoped that somehow the neo-cons do see or know something that I don't. Sometimes I've even hoped that they'll just get lucky and things will go their way. Right now I do feel like many of us have been vindicated to a certain extent, but it is far more bitter than sweet. I think a lot of us have been hoping that we're proven wrong about the war in Iraq, although at this point I'm nearly at the end of my hope.

(Cross-posted at Carpetbagger Report.)

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