“Another victory like this, and we’re done for.”
OK, presidential candidate Barrack Obama is taking a whirlwind tour of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Europe. Accompanied by a world class entourage of reporters, creating a world wide media frenzy, and no doubt creating an unprecedented security headache for the Secret Service and the US military. I don’t recall a candidate who created such a populist frenzy since Carter, and frankly it’s kind of weird. I mean, Obama does have a silver tongue, but he’s not JFK reborn. Ostensibly his travels are part of a congressional fact finding mission, but it seems like a thinly disguised election junket to many people. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s certainly different. Reports that the president of Iraq used the trip as an opportunity to endorse Obama’s withdrawal plan from his country appear to be exaggerated.
However, Obama’s plan to set a timetable and withdraw from Iraq did generate some interesting comments from the esteemed Senator Lieberman. The good Senator has claimed that Obama is choosing to lose the war in Iraq, and instead “was prepared to accept retreat and defeat.” OK. Apparently Senator Lieberman believes we are winning the war in Iraq. I’ve heard this line recently from a number of quarters, in fact I’ve heard people say that we have in fact won the war in Iraq. Yes indeed, the surge worked, the Iraqi government has stepped up to the plate, the only thing left is to see who should get the credit for this victory, Bush or McCain.
Yay, can I get my “Victory in Iraq Day” T-shirt now? Let’s examine this “victory.” It’s cost about a trillion dollars, with at least another two trillion to go. That’s $3000 for every man, woman, and child in the country, with another $6000 to go. That’s about $8000-$24,000 per household. Tens of thousands of Americans are dead or maimed. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will suffer permanent mental and physical harm from their service in Iraq. From a life of nightmares to a living nightmare. Everything this money could have done, everything those American dead could have accomplished in their lives…is gone forever.
And what about Iraq, the country who we liberated for their own good? About one in twenty Iraqi’s are dead, one in six has been displaced, and God knows how many have been maimed, wounded, or will suffer permanent psychological and physical harm. In comparative terms, that would be fifteen million dead Americans and fifty million Americans as refugees. Kinda puts hurricane Katrina is perspective, eh? And to add insult to injury, the government we have installed in Iraq has allied itself with Iran and asked us to leave.
This is a victory? The famous Greek General Pyyrhus once won a battle where he lost half his army in the process. Upon being congratulated for his victory, he said something to the effect of “Another victory like this, and we’re done for.” In other words, the costs we have already incurred through the invasion of Iraq are so high that it is ludicrous to speak of victory. And I didn’t even mention some of the other costs of this victory. The myth of American military invincibility has been shattered. Our army is fatigued and worn out, much of their equipment is worn out, neither has a cheap easy fix. There was no Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq before we invaded, Iraq is now one of their major recruitment centers. In fact insurgents trained and experienced in Iraq are now traveling to other countries and inspiring people to take up arms against the USA. And Iran is more powerful and influential than ever in the region.
It’s just tiresome how this has become so like Vietnam. Whenever there was a lull in the violence or some new offensive was launched, the administration and its supporters would fall all over themselves announcing imminent victory. Heck, in one case Johnson even announced that the war was won and American troops would be coming home soon. What they failed to understand then, and they fail to understand now, is that the USA has very little influence on what is happening in Iraq as we did in Vietnam. Our enemies are calling the shots, not us. Not to mention the absurdity of people who claim credit for everything good that happens in a war, and deny responsibility for everything that goes wrong. Hell, by that standard people could claim that Hitler won World War Two.
To repeat myself yet again, a government that requires foreign troops to stay in power is not a legitimate government. The only victory left open to us in Iraq is to get our troops out of harm’s way and stop pouring ever more money into the Iraq rat hole. When every American is safely home from Iraq, that will be a success. The only question is will we do in on our terms, or wait until we have no choice but to leave.
Oh well, tomorrow a nice story about puppies on Mars or something. Have a great week everyone.
(The above image of a statue of General Pyrrhus is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being use for profit and is central to illustrating the post. In some ways the situation in Iraq is even worse than Pyrrhus’ victory, at least in his case a Roman army was destroyed and the Roman’s knew they had lost the battle. Our enemies in Iraq are laying low or being paid not to attack us, they have not been defeated. And when the battle was over Pyrrus’ army wasn’t still under daily attack, in Iraq attacks on American forces are down, they have by no means stopped.)