I know it's bad form to call out a fellow blogger--especially one as brilliant and dedicated as front-pager BarbinMD over at dKos--but sometimes it is necessary for the sake of posterity to hold one another's feet to the fire in the interests of truth and honesty.
In this case, I must object strongly to BarbinMD's post today excoriating Dick Cheney for saying that "a significant portion of the Democrats -- including, I think, Nancy Pelosi -- are adamantly opposed to the war and prepared to pack it in and come home in defeat, rather than put in place or support a policy that will lead to victory."
With apologies to BarbinMD and to the progressive blogosphere agreeing with Barb's post, I must break to you the unhappy news that Cheney is right.
To refute VP Dick, Barb dicks around with the well-worn Democratic Party line in responding to Cheney's barb. She says (echoing the safe and unthreatening lines about "endless wars" with "no military solution" parroted by Obama, Edwards and Hillary) the following:
After more than four years, hundreds of thousands of deaths and an Iraqi civil war, perhaps it would have been more helpful had they discussed their own devotion, their seeming allegiance, to the concept of fighting a war that has no military solution...
To be fair, BarbinMD was only quoting General Petraeus' own remarks on the subject--remarks which caused Petraeus to take quite a bit of heat. And to be fair, this meme--that of the endless "war with no military solution"--is standard boilerplate for those who oppose Bush's foreign policy in the Middle East. The only problem is that I have no idea what the #@*& that's supposed to mean. Neither do Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh--and quite frankly, I don't blame them.
When I go to Dictionary.com and look up the word "war", this is what I get:
1. A conflict carried on by force of arms, as between nations or between parties within a nation; warfare, as by land, sea, or air.
2. A state or period of armed hostility or active military operations: The two nations were at war with each other.
3. A contest carried on by force of arms, as in a series of battles or campaigns: the War of 1812.
I challenge anyone to tell me how one achieves a non-military solution to "conflict carried on by force of arms", "period of armed hostility or active military operations" or "series of battles or campaigns" without the treaty-enforced capitulation and surrender of one side (or a langorous stalemate). There is no non-military solution to a war, and never has been. Those words are utterly meaningless.
Cheney is absolutely correct: If America is fighting a "war" in Iraq, then Democrats are urging for America's surrender and defeat in that war. That's the plain and honest truth of the matter--and no amount of whining, gnashing our teeth and screaming about the nasty rhetoric coming from ghouls like Cheney is going to make a difference. If you're fighting a war, and your side is losing, and you act to recall your troops from the field of conflict, that's the very definition of retreat and defeat. It's just common sense--and any attempt to deny or wiggle out of that sounds, quite rightly, like bullshit to most clear-headed people.
And we can use all the periphrastic rhetorical circumlocutions like "escalation" and "conflict" and "endless war" that we want; it's still not going to change the heart of the matter.
The fact is that Democrats have the same choices today that we had six months ago, and the six months before that--and the six months before that: we can either wail and piss down our legs at being called surrender monkeys for trying to a end a "war" by dishonorably pulling our troops out of the conflict without first achieving "victory", or we can tell the goddamn truth: namely, that America is NOT FIGHTING A WAR IN IRAQ.
I have made this case in post after post after post after post: America may be babysitting a 3-way civil war currently taking place between Sunni, Shia and Al-Qaeda in Iraq (which, just for the record, Al-Qaeda will lose in short order once our occupying presence unifying and distracting the factions is removed), but our portion of the "war" ended when we completed our invasion and decapitation of the regime by capturing Saddam Hussein. From that point forward, we were no longer fighting a "war" in Iraq, but were instead the Occupational Authority in a foreign land. Our role in Iraq bears much more resemblance to that of France in Algeria or the British in India than it does to our efforts in WWII, Korea or even Vietnam.
We control the government. We control the streets--or have the ability to do so with a single military raid. We control the infrastructure. We control the prisons. We control the economy. It is within our power to let the population live, or to "pacify" it brutally and without mercy. We own Iraq in every sense of the word: there are no enemy leaders to kill; no territory to seize; no infantry battalions to crush; no navy to sink; no air force to shoot down; no landmarks over which to place our flag in triumph. We are quite simply NOT fighting a war of any kind in Iraq. Indeed, the reason there is no military solution to this war is because there IS NO WAR. See how tidy that is?--and we don't even have to put on bullshit protectors over our ears!
As I said in GOP Bluff Finally Called: War or Occupation?:
In war, your objective is to seize (or defend) territory, kill or capture the enemy, and (hopefully) depose the enemy government.
In an occupation, your objective is to subjugate and manage a foreign population with peace and stability, while building up infrastructure in and/or exploiting the resources of that population.
And it makes a big difference. To quote myself again, this time from How Can You Surrender If There Was Never a War?:
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....
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.
And most importantly, as a I said in It's Not Defeat, Dammit:
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.
So to sum up:
1. It's an Occupation, not a War
2. Wars end it "Defeat" and "Victory", but Occupations end in "Annexation" or "Withdrawal"
3. America WON the "war" a long time ago.
4. America WINS by ending our occupation of Iraq and allowing them to make full use of their freedom.
Until we start shouting these things from the rooftops and telling it like it is, people like Cheney and Limbaugh are going to keep calling us Defeatocrat Surrender-Monkeys.
And so long as we keep swallowing their bullshit premises, they're going to continue to be right.
Labels: BarbinMD, Dick Cheney, Iraq, Iraq war, Occupation of Iraq, Rush Limbaugh