To win in Iraq, depending on your definition of winning, I believe that the Iraqi people must first be convinced that a western-style democracy is superior to an Islamic-republic.
Are more troops — another surge — the solution to this quagmire that has gone on in Iraq now longer than any other war in the history of our nation? Some may think me unpatriotic for saying so, but I think not.
As a retired, career Army officer and an avid reader of military history, I have come to believe that the Allies won a lasting peace in Western Europe following World War II because the German and Italian people, long before our defeat of Hitler’s and Mussolini’s armies, recognized that fascism was an inferior form of government. We won the war with Japan for the same reason; the Japanese people, by the end of the war, were fed-up with military imperialism and were ready for something better. They were open to embracing democracy. Likewise, the people of South Korea, after years of domination by the Japanese, were open to all that democracy promised.
By contrast, we lost the war in Vietnam because the people there believed that communism offered more than did the “democracy” they had come to know under the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem. To the Vietnamise, Americans were foreigners, occupiers of their country not unlike the French colonists had been before us. Many Iraqis feel this same way about our presence in their country. We may have liberated them from Saddam Hussein — thank you very much — but now we are occupiers. Therefore, to win the war in Iraq, depending on your definition of winning, I believe that the Iraqi people must first be convinced that a western-style democracy such as ours is superior to an Islamic-republic. And be not confused. There is nothing whatsoever democratic about Islamic-republics. Since I do not believe that that this is ever likely to happen, I agree with with those who think it’s long past time to stop sacrificing our youth and spending future generations of Americans’ money over there.
I’m sorry Mr. President, but you’re wrong, as usual. Wars are not won on the offensive — battles and campaigns are. Wars are won only after the reasons for them being fought are resolved. Like World War I, the War to End All Wars, it didn’t really end in Europe 1918 like the history books say. The aftermath just fomented more war; the years between 1918 and 1939 were just a lull in the killing. The aftermath of the first and second rounds of this war sowed the seeds of what we are dealing with now in Southwest Asia. So, unless we are willing to annihilate all in the Islamic world who oppose us on religious and moral grounds, and that won’t leave very many, we’d best be saving back something for a defensive round. We’d best be about the business too of rebuilding the “Coalition of the Willing” that your policies and bullheadedness have undone.
According to a small sampling of American opinion on the war in Iraq done by CNN a year ago this very week, only one in five believed back then that the United States was actually winning. Sixty percent of those polled said that they thought no one was winning. Notwithstanding, most of number polled agreed with President Bush that we had no choice but to “stay the course.” Today, according to a more substantial poll recently conducted by CBS News, fifty-nine percent say that they want to end the war — to bring the troops home. A full two-thirds say that if we must stay in Iraq, they do not support doing so financed by deficit spending. So, opinion on the war has completely reversed itself over the past year. Despite this fact, Republican candidates vying to be the next President of the United States are all saying that we can win the war and that we cannot afford to, as Senator McCain has put it, “choose to lose.” Therefore, if the war continues to be the number one concern in the minds of voters leading up to the elections in November next year, it looks to me like we’re about to have our first female Commander-In-Chief.
Senator McCain, the most outspoken advocate for the war among Republican candidates, now a full 13 percentage points behind the leader, Rudi Giuliani, was asked on the Jim Lehrer show last night how he defined winning the war in Iraq. But, as I read a transcript of his dialogue with the show’s host this afternoon, I don’t find where he ever really answered the question. So, if Senator McCain cannot define it, can we?
Could winning simply be a matter of stabilizing the situation there long enough for the “democratically” elected government of Iraq to make some kind of political progress toward sharing the nation’s oil wealth equitably among its diverse ethnic groups and guaran- teeing us future access to it? Does winning have to mean the eradication of all fundamentalist Muslims there, AKA “terrorists?” Is winning in Iraq a matter of our somehow training and enabling an Iraqi self-defense force so that they might deny Iran from claiming a huge share of the country after we have left and cutting us off from the oil there? Is winning all these things, or is it simply a matter of our staying in Iraq forever? Hmmm….
Vice President, Dick Cheney, as Secretary of Defense during the Persian Gulf War from early August 1990 until the end of February 1992, waxed very eloquently after that war on reasons why the United States chose not to pursue the Iraqi military driven out of Kuwait all the way back to Baghdad so as to depose Saddam Hussein then. Click on the “play” button twice, once to load the video, once to play.
After watching this video, I was left wondering what convinced Mr. Cheney that regime change in Iraq in 2001/2002 was such a good idea when it was such a bad idea ten years beforehand. Even after the revelations of “cooked up” intelligence on WMD in Iraq and Collin Powell’s resignation as Secretary of State, I do not believe that President Bush, all by himself, could have hatched such a hair brained idea. Read about Thomas P.M. Barnett’s book, “The Pentagon’s New Map.” Further, with all of his influence, I do not believe that Mr. Cheney could not have dissuaded the President from such a foolhardy course of action? Hmmm… have you checked the price of Halliburton stock lately?
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