Monday, May 14, 2007

Memo to Harry Reid

Harry, Harry, Harry...I know you're getting beaten up for saying "the war is lost" out loud and in public. According to the wingnut part of the blogosphere, the lesson to be learned is that the war is not lost, and even if it is, we can't say it out loud and in public because it will (let's say it together) embolden the enemy. According to the moonbat side of the blogosphere, the lesson to be learned is that the war is lost, America is decrepit, and we have to keep saying these things out loud and in public, because that is truth-telling and moral bravery.

A plague on both your houses.

The problem, Harry, is that by saying the war is lost, you're implying that it could, under other circumstances, be won. You're also accepting that what we're in the middle of is a war.

I think both ideas are mistaken. A war (definitionally, it seems to me) has to have a winnable objective: topple a leader, conquer a country, repel an invader...something like that. Say what you will about Iraq and whether we should have been there or not, but our original incursion did have such an objective--to topple Saddam. And that mission was accomplished.

From that day to this, though, what has our objective been? The president changes it from time to time, but lately what I hear is "establish a stable, free, democratic Iraq that does not pose a threat to its neighbors." Is that a war objective? Is that a thing that soldiers can make happen? And if so, how will we know that the objective has been achieved? How can we ever know that this "war" has been won? Not pose a threat to its neighbors? What's our benchmark for that? Stability? What does that actually look like, and how many days of it are required to know we're done?

The fact is, there is no way of knowing, because there is no tangible objective to be achieved. We're in the middle of an insurgency against occupation + a civil war + general anarchy. We can't end the insurgency because we won't leave and we won't really conquer the country. We can't end the civil war because we can't or won't take sides in it. And we can't end the general anarchy because our presence created it.

So, Harry, the war isn't lost--because there is no war, and whatever it is we're doing, there's no way to "win" it. All we can do is preside over hell until we decide not to.

Say that, why don't you?

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