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The Only Way We Win in Iraq Is If We Pretend

November 27th, 2006

A little more than a month ago, Bush gave a news conference on Iraq, which included the following:

The ultimate victory in Iraq, which is a government that can sustain itself, govern itself and defend itself, depends upon the Iraqi citizens and the Iraqi government doing the hard work necessary to protect their country. And our job is to help them achieve that objective.

As a matter of fact, my view is: The only way we lose in Iraq is if we leave before the job is done.

And I’m confident we can succeed in the broader war on terror, this ideological conflict.

A little later, a reporter asked a question to Bush:

Q: Are we winning?

BUSH: Absolutely we’re winning.

Bush denies there is a civil war, but if hundreds of people each day are being slaughtered in sectarian violence–not insurgent or terrorist, but sectarian violence, that’s a civil war, no matter how you try to spin it. And not only is there a civil war, it is getting worse.

Shi’ites took over a major television station in Baghdad and aired a two-hour polemic fomenting war against Sunnis. One resident of Sadr City said:

“This is live and, God willing, everyone will hear me: We are not interested in sidewalks, water services or anything else. We want safety. We want the officials. They say there is no sectarian war. No, it is sectarian war, and that’s the truth.”

The Sunnis are no happier, and there is evidence that the coalition government is splintering along those same sectarian lines.

Meanwhile, the insurgents are now self-sufficient in terms of financing, meaning that it is actually getting healthier, not weakening. Remember that a month ago, Bush said that the “ultimate victory in Iraq… is a government that can sustain itself….” Well, the U.S.-backed government is falling apart, and it’s the insurgency that is now self-sustaining.

The U.S. has been in this conflict longer than it was in WWII. 2,876 American military personnel are dead, tens of thousands wounded. Bush wants to “stay the course.” He says that it will take “a long time,” and in the past has indicated that “future presidents”–plural–will have to decide on whether we pull out. Under Bush’s plan, we will be in Iraq longer than we were in Vietnam, by which time at least ten thousand American soldiers will have died–assuming things don’t get too much worse there, which they probably will–and the chances of success, despite Bush’s rosy predictions, are virtually zero.

And the parents of our troops must understand that if I didn’t believe we could succeed and didn’t believe it was necessary for the security of this country to succeed, I wouldn’t have your loved ones there.

This coming from a man who supported the Vietnam War and berated his schoolmates for dodging the draft, and then ran like the drunken, drug-addled coward he was when his deferments ran out.

Iraq was never about terrorism. It was never about a military threat. It was never about bringing freedom to Iraqis. Make what you will of the remaining reasons: a neocon worldview, an imbecilic naivete that we would be welcomed and it would be a cakewalk, the desire to feed the military-industrial complex, the desire to control oil output so as to affect world prices, personal revenge–any and probably all of these in varying measure.

And the only reason Bush keeps us there is because it would be politically crippling for him to pull out after all that he has said and done. Iraq is now just damage control for Bush. And he would rather sacrifice the lives of thousands of our soldiers than to admit that he made a mistake, so instead he can leave office, let the next president pull out the troops, and then slide a parting knife into that president’s back by saying that the inevitable collapse was only because of “cutting and running.”

What a petty, pusillanimous, cowardly little ratfink.

While I sincerely believe that the war could have been run in such a way that could have ended with relative success (“relative” being the operative term here), Bush’s mismanagement from day one precluded that possibility, his intentional military and diplomatic policies were absolutely contrary to that success. Not only did Bush start this war, let there be no mistake in the conclusion that Bush lost this war, and he lost it badly. He pushed for it, he insisted it was necessary, he got everything he wanted to fight it. No one else is or ever will be as responsible, despite Republicans already trying to claim that Democrats “own” the war in Iraq.

All Bush believes he can succeed in is spinning the perception so that it doesn’t seem so clear that it was completely, entirely his fault. It will be a success and a potential success until the day he leaves office, and then it will become someone else’s failure.

And all that will cost is the life of every American soldier and every Iraqi civilian who will die until that time comes.

But never doubt: Bush is willing to pay that price.

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  1. cc
    November 27th, 2006 at 02:32 | #1

    The U.S. has been in this conflict longer than it was in WWII.

    And we’ve also had far fewer casualties than WWII, as well as Vietnam, the Civil War and the Revolutionary War. I mean, what does measuring the duration of the war acheive exactly? Are we supposed to expect each conflict to last a specific amount of time? Implausible. No war is alike, no battle is alike. All will take a different amount of time to resolve. Vietnam took eight-and-a-half years. I doubt very much we’ll be engaged in Iraq for that long, although it’s foolish to put a timetable on success. And you better believe there will be success on at least some level. This isn’t – nor was it ever – Vietnam, Although some have tried to shape it in that image for their political purposes.

  2. Tim Kane
    November 27th, 2006 at 09:05 | #2

    At some level, Bush is well aware that nothing can stop his entire presidency from being a complete and utter failure on nearly every level:




    New Orleans

    The Deficits

    The Constitution

    The Welfare of the middle class.

    Just two years ago he reveled in the prospect that he would be the conservative movements savior, the man that finally buried Roosevelt and all the new deal doctrines and policies. The greatest president since Calvin Coolidge. Bush never cared about average Americans. He cared about power first, and walked the earth with the belief that if you take care of the rich first, only then will the economy work right and freedom be preserved.

    Now he knows. He knows that not only is his presidency ruined, but he knows it is inevitable and he knows there is no undoing his failure. It is irreversable.

    So, he is already rehearsing his excuses. The failure in Iraq will be a failure of staying power… that American cut and ran. And he hopes this debate will cause people to overlook all his other failures. He started saying this in Vietnam last week. It will be his post presidency song as well. And he’ll be singing it in his grave.

    The problem with this is that in the next two years, this excuse is going to desolve like asprin in water. And then he’ll be left with nothing other than failure. My guess is he’ll return to booze and drugs for liquid denial. In the end, that’s what Hitler did too, well no booze, but drugs.

    So we stay in Iraq, simply to protect his ego and help him save face. Every death between now and then is sacrificed to protect his ego.

    National outrage will follow.

    There may be a silver lining to all of this. For the vast majority of Americans, radical conservativism may be truly discredited. Its shredded on the remains of Bush, Cheney, and the endless list of christian conservatives who turned out to be gay, banal or corrupt – in short everything they accused Democrats of being.

  3. Luis
    November 27th, 2006 at 11:27 | #3

    And we’ve also had far fewer casualties than WWII, as well as Vietnam, the Civil War and the Revolutionary War.That depends on how you count the start of the Vietnam War. If, as conservatives claim, Kennedy started the war and therefore it began around end of 1962, when Kennedy signed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1962 which formally committed us to aiding Vietnam, then there were far fewer U.S. casualties in Vietnam in the first three years–about 2,200. If you count from the Gulf of Tonkin (I don’t see how you could see the start as being later than that), and it is Johnson’s war, then around 8,200 had died by this point–three years in, that is. But the significant fact here is that in Vietnam, it wasn’t until the 4th year (by the latter counting) that we began to suffer our main toll–nearly 40,000 dead in just three years, starting in the fourth year. That is significant because Vietnam is by far the most similar conflict–fighting an embedded insurgency halfway across the world–one in which we lost a few people a day until it exploded in our faces, just as Iraq is beginning to do. Denying the similarities will just bring Santayana’s wrath.

    The length of relative wars are milestones, and milestones are tools for reflection. WWII was a lot more intense, but it is sobering to realize that after more time spent in Europe and Asia in WWII, Bush has made things far worse rather than winning the war. But you are correct in that WWII, like the Civil and Revolutionary Wars, were much different in type and tenor from the Iraq War. Vietnam, on the other hand, is very, very close.

    Vietnam took eight-and-a-half years.Where did you get that number? Measuring from when to when? If the war ended in mid-1975, then 8.5 years earlier would be the beginning of 1967, by which time we’d lost those 8,200 lives. So, what are you measuring the start from, Johnson’s escalation of troops up to 429,000 at the end of 1966? Are you just reciting a number you once heard without checking its validity, or are you playing with the math a little to suit your point?

    Interesting, though, that yet again, you focus on the least of the points in my post–in this case, the milestone–and debate against that, not against the sectarian violence, the civil war, the self-sufficiency of the insurgency, or Bush’s holding of ultimate responsibility for the conflict, his denial of reality in that he says that things are improving, or his damage control to make it look like it’s not his fault. This is common in your comments, that you avoid that major thrust of the post, you ignore the damning evidence, and rather select a smaller, easier-to-fight and yet far-less-important detail or flourish, a riff on the straw man fallacy. You want respect, take on the major thrust of a piece, debate it at face value, don’t cut corners, and get your facts straight. You might want to read my entry on Arguing on the Internet–unless you did already and are following the strategy I outlined for the quick and easy way.

  4. Tim Kane
    November 28th, 2006 at 08:07 | #4

    Graham Green’s inspiration for the book, “the Quiet American” as early as late 1951. He began writing in 1952, the book was published in 1954 before Dien Bien Phu and the French retreat.

    The Book accurately predicts the history of the next 20 years. When did that war begin? Hard to tell. But it seems it began in the 1950s. Either way, it was lost before it was fought. Thats one of the points made by Graham Green as early as 1952.

  5. cc
    December 2nd, 2006 at 05:24 | #5

    Vietnam took eight-and-a-half years.

    Where did you get that number?… Are you just reciting a number you once heard without checking its validity, or are you playing with the math a little to suit your point?

    LOL! I got it from the link YOU provided above to butress your point. The one that goes to Forbes.

    “Only the Vietnam War (eight years, five months), the Revolutionary War (six years, nine months), and the Civil War (four years), have engaged America longer.”

    My number is every bit as valid as your link is, yes?

  6. Luis
    December 2nd, 2006 at 11:19 | #6

    So? When you stop laughing, deal with every other point in the post and the comments, and I’ll stop guffawing at how lame your comments are.

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