I’m ever so tired of this administration and the supporters of the occupation of Iraq talking about the war in terms of winning and losing.
“We can win the war in Iraq” they tell us. “We must win.” “We cannot lose the will to win.” “We cannot afford to lose.” “It would send a terrible message to our enemies if we give up and lose the war in Iraq.”
This is international policy they’re talking about; decisions which effect our foreign relations, national security, the federal budget and its impact on the economies both domestic and global, and most importantly, the lives of millions of Iraqi civilians and U.S. citizens—both those serving in the armed forces and all the people connected to them back home. Yet our president and his supporters insist on talking about it like some high school football game.
Our foreign policy shouldn’t be about winning or losing. The days of such bellicose swagger should have gone the way of Otto “Iron Chancellor” von Bismark and Teddy “Rough Rider” Roosevelt. Our foreign policy should be about what is in the best interest of the global community—which will ultimately serve our own interests best in the long run. If the best means by which to help the Iraqis achieve their interests is to maintain a presence in Iraq (a dubious proposition), then by all means lets stay. If, on the other hand, our presence is catalyzing the ongoing tragedy in Iraq and further sow the sort of enmity which the terrorist organizations are so eager to harvest, no length of stay will make the deaths of our soldiers any more honorable or meaningful. I like message military strategy no more than I like message legislation. If the course which we’ve stayed so long is indeed harmful to the well-being of Iraq, we should immediately begin a withdrawal, regardless of whether or not that withdrawal appears to the war hawks to be a defeat.
I doubt things in Iraq would measurably improve upon our withdrawal. The tragedy of the situation in which this administration has entangled us is that there is likely no truly positive alternative. All possible options seem to entail heavy costs and potentially disastrous consequences for Iraq. It is a matter of determining which will cause the fewest problems. All else being equal, I call for the option that at least minimizes the cost to our nation in money and blood. In other words, unless a compelling case can be made that our presence will minimize the bloodshed in Iraq and expedite the formation of a government which derives its legitimacy from the consent of the people, lets stop interfering. The burden of proof should be upon those who want to continue to spend U.S. money and life, not those who wish to conserve the same.
In any case, this isn’t a game of any kind whatsoever. Millions of lives are at stake, both at home and abroad. By framing the issue in the terms they choose debases the entire issue, and only serves to expose the prideful, juvenile perspective of the administration.