Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What Victory?

President Bush wants U.S. troops in Iraq until we achieve “victory,” and warns that there will be terrible consequences of “defeat.”

I might begin to buy that even for a second if I had shred of a notion what either of those—especially “victory”—means.

If winning the war in Iraq means that U.S. troops will no longer be targets of insurgent attacks, then it seems to me that victory is impossible as long as troops stay there. No doubt there will always be at least some factions within Iraqi society that see U.S. troops as targets and so continue to plant roadside incendiary devices or attempt suicide bombings against them.

If “victory” means that warring factions in Iraq will stop warring, then again, I don’t see how U.S. military might will bring that about. For if U.S. presence is required to keep them from warring, then, victory—which presumably would mean that we could leave—is a logical impossibility. And if it’s not, then why not just declare victory and get out?

If “victory” means that the U.S. “saves face” on the world stage and prevents terrorists from feeling emboldened to mount attacks on American soil, then “victory” is only possible on terms we set. And if we can do that, then again, why not say we’ve won and come home?

Could “victory” mean that Israel is made safer? If so, why not invest some part of the billions we’re spending in Iraq in Jerusalem instead?

Then again, maybe “victory” means that U.S. corporate interests in Iraq are made safe; maybe it means that oil is flowing freely through the Iraqi oil pipelines. If that’s what it is, then I wish they’d just say so.

My suspicion is that “victory” in Iraq means whatever the Bush administration wants it to mean. They made up plenty of reasons for starting the war; I just wish they were as creative in coming up with reasons to end it.


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