It's Not Defeat, Dammit!
STOP TALKING ABOUT "DEFEAT" IN IRAQ. Hear it from your own thereisnospoon. Say it with me slowly, loud and clear.
There. Is. No. Such. Thing. As. Defeat. In. Iraq.
There. Is. No. Such. Thing. As. Victory. In. Iraq.
Get over it. Stop using those words because they are MEANINGLESS.
While I appreciate insightful diaires like L C Johnson's, talking about our "defeat" in Iraq is not only misguided and incoherent, it plays into Republican frames about how "we want America to lose", and how we're "defeatists in the face of the enemy." Which is bullshit--because I, like every other patriotic Democratic American, want America to come a winner every time.
And it's not just diarists here. The James Baker Commission just came out and Ruled Out Victory in Iraq. Whatever that means.
The reason that terms like "victory" and "defeat" in Iraq are meaningless is because you can't "win" an OCCUPATION. Wars you can win or lose; occupations can only end in withdrawal or annexation.
We can no more "win" or "lose" in Iraq that the British could have "won" or "lost" in India, or the French could have "won" or "lost" in Algeria.
Allow me to quote from my earlier diary on this subject called How Can You Surrender If There Was Never a War?:
The biggest and by far the most important bullshit assumption being made by all sides is that there is a WAR in Iraq.
THERE IS NO WAR IN IRAQ. There is an OCCUPATION. And there is a resistance to said occupation. This resistance takes many forms: criminal thuggery, despicable terrorism, sectarian violence, and guerrilla warfare.
Allow me to repeat this again...
The "War" in Iraq is NOT A WAR. It is an OCCUPATION.
And this is absolutely critical. It's critical because there is a HUGE difference between wars and occupations: Occupations can end only in WITHDRAWAL or in ANNEXATION; Wars can end only in DEFEAT or VICTORY.
America is NOT ready to annex Iraq--even if such a thing were possible. Cheney and Bush would like to, through the process of permanent bases--but the American public won't stand for it. America IS ready to accept withdrawal from Iraq--But ONLY if it understands that what is happening in Iraq is an OCCUPATION and not a war.
Let me be very clear about this: America WINS by withdrawing from Iraq. We win because we're not spending $2 billion/week. We win because we're not losing more troops to targeted homegrown resistance. We win because we're not killing 600,000 more civilians and inflaming world anger. America wins by allowing Iraq to pursue its own destiny and stand up for itself. America wins by decreasing its foreign policy emphasis on oil. Most importantly, we win because we were never fighting an identifiable "enemy" once Saddam was toppled and imprisoned.
And that's not all. Not only is it stupid from a purely factual point of view to talk about "defeat" in Iraq, it'll also lose you elections. To quote from the same diary again:
When push comes to shove, Americans want to win. Such is the eternal optimism of the American electorate that they will vote simultaneously for John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan--because both promised sunshine in the days ahead. And no matter what they say in the polls leading up an election, when they actually step into the ballot box, they're going to vote for the people who appeal to their pride and tell them that they will WIN..
And with regard to Iraq, everything even our most progressive leaders say still falls into GOP traps guaranteed to ensure our defeat at the polls.
You see, no matter how you phrase it, a troop pullout of Iraq is by definition an admission of defeat in the context of a war, so long as the violence and unrest continues. Certainly, one can declare "victory" and go home, as Nixon did in Vietnam, but the public knows better.
In the end, you can use the phrase "measured withdrawal", or you can use the phrase "cut and run." When your average American goes to the ballot box, it all means one and the same thing: Surrender and Defeat in War. And let me tell you something as sure as day: Americans don't accept surrender and defeat in war.
So STOP calling it a war. Call it the Occupation that it is.
And for God's sakes stop talking about "victory" and "defeat". Those words are meaningless and irrelevant to this conflict--and will cost Dems at the ballot box.