Sunday, February 11, 2007

To Many, winning is no option.

My column from February 1, 2007, finally posted to the Potomac News web site. Interestingly, the Washington Post has an opinion this Sunday that claims the war is unwinnable, titled "Victory is not an option".

My column, To many, winning is no option, takes Senator Webb to task for his response to the President's State of the Union address, and argues that we have lost focus on what should be our shared goal of victory in the war:

To many, winning is no option
Potomac News
Thursday, February 1, 2007

Last month I wrote about the Iraq Study Group report, saying they asked the wrong question. At the time I assumed every American wanted to win the war in Iraq, and therefore the question was not "how do we conclude the war," but rather "how do we win it?"

Our new senator, James Webb, gave the Democrats' response to the president's State of the Union address last week. In his speech, he again said the goal was removing our troops, suggesting paradoxically "not a precipitous withdrawal" but "a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq."

To support his contention, he cited President Dwight Eisenhower, who said of the Korean War, "When comes the end?" Webb noted that "as soon as he became president, he brought the Korean War to an end."

Webb is a well-educated man, and no neophyte regarding military history. But the Korean War is a great example of the wrong-headedness of pursuit of "conclusion" rather than "victory." The war was "ended" over 50 years ago, but U.S. troops are still in South Korea. North Korea is one of the greatest threats to our country and the world, and a constant source of trouble. Even Vietnam is less of a problem today than Korea.

Given the success of South Korea, one can imagine how much better it would be for the North Korean people, and the world, had we achieved victory rather than "conclusion." Of course, unlike Iraq, the Korean War was truly a civil war, and the result was probably the best we could do. But Korea is not the model we should desire for Iraq.

More revealing was the result of a poll taken after the president presented his new plan for Iraq. Fox News asked, "Do you personally want the Iraq plan President Bush announced last week to succeed?" Not "do you think it will succeed?" or "do you think there is a better plan?" but simply "do you hope we win?" I expected a vast majority of Americans would say yes -- because nobody wants us to lose.

I was very wrong. Only 51 percent of Democrats wanted victory in Iraq. A shocking 34 percent affirmatively called for defeat, while another 15 percent weren't sure if American victory was something they supported. My premise that all Americans think victory is preferable to defeat is wrong. Half the now-majority party not only expects us to fail, but they want us to fail.

So when the Democrats reject America's new Iraq plan, remember their opinion is clouded by their desire for America to lose. Their actions are guided by their hope that Bush's plan fails.

Winning clearly isn't a concern for Sen. Hillary Clinton. At a recent town hall meeting, she said the goal was to "bring the Iraq war to the right end." Or more accurately, to force President Bush to clean it up before she takes office: "I think it's the height of irresponsibility and I really resent it … we should expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office."
Still, I am not ready to concede defeat at the hands of the Democrats. Our country has a window of opportunity to win the war before the Democrats turn enough people against winning that it's politically safe for them to act.

In the past two months, the president replaced Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and the commander of the Iraq forces. He proposed a dramatic shift in tactics, based on the recommendation of his new defense secretary and his new general. The Senate confirmed both -- General Petraeus by unanimous vote. But the Democrats are trying to pass a "non-binding" resolution denying the new general the tools he said he needed to win when they confirmed him.

Both General Petraeus and Secretary Gates made it clear the resolution will embolden our enemies. They obviously thought that would matter to the new majority. But the Fox poll, and their own words, suggest that far from being concerned, such an outcome is acceptable -- anything to increase the pressure to withdraw the troops. Winning isn't an option for the Democrats -- some don't even see it as desirable.


Anonymous said...

That's crap. I'm surpised they printed it.

Don't quit your day job.

Anonymous said...

We emboldened the enemy by not going in with a strategy. There was no strategy at all. Our military provided great tactics. We took Bagdad successfully--yet we still do not control even Bagdad.

You have to get past the politics. If Jim Webb was a Republican, you'd be singing his praises. Our military has always known how to win, but this trickle-in surge is gonna create just enough soldiers to provide more targets and not enough to hold the city.

You analysis is naive.

Spank That Donkey said...

I guess you two (prior comments) proven the thesis... "Victory is not an Option"

Actually the President has acheived an over throw of Sadaam, three major elections, an Iraqi Consitution, (remember we had the articles of Confederation, before we settled a few years later on the existing Federal Constitution), Sadaam was delivered up for a trial and executed for his crimes against the Iraqi People, and free enterprise reigns in Iraq.

The simple fact is that besides Anbar and Baghdad, Iraq is relatively peaceful.... The only thing left is a terror campaign...

Charles said...

Webb Democrat, you only need look down to the previous posts to see how I would react if Webb were a republican.

Which is, to respond to anybody from either party who seeks to lose this war because it is politically unpopular. War should be above party politics, and yet this war is mired in politics.

I disagree that we went in without a strategy. We had a strategy, but it was based on flawed intelligence (mostly from the CIA), which overrated the Iraqi state of infrastructure and their readiness for self-governance.

But I reject the notion that we can't leave our troops in Iraq without making them madder and madder at us. The "pull out now" tactic is based on the notion that every minute our troops are there makes the situation worse.

But if anything, the situation has gotten worse as we drew down our forces, and our forces are not largely to blame for the major fighting these days.

Charles said...

anon, believe me, I couldn't quit my day job with what they pay for a column.....

Anonymous said...

Good post Charles. It is getting difficult to find anything thoughtful written about this subject.

As a practical matter, the situation in Iraq is tolerable. Our casualties are not too high. The cost is bearable. The goal is attainable and worth our best effort. Unfortunately, we are being victimized by propaganda from our own mass media, reporters who must paint every story is the greatest of crises.

I think it is too soon say Iraq is a lost cause. It is difficult even to tell how things are going. The information we get from our news media is so biased it is not reliable. Nonetheless, the numbers themselves tell a story. Last year we lost only 800 out of 150,000 soldiers policing a nation of 25,000,000. Most of Iraq must be stable. Its economy is growing.

The question is what happens after we leave. When do we leave? Ultimately, the Iraqis must depend upon themselves. Can they? Will we allow them the time to unify?

We have a strong pacifist movement in this country. In addition, the cultural war in this nation has reached the point where we have nearly incapacitated our government's ability to deal with foreign threat. Neither side will allow the other a victory. Will our cultural divisions not allow us to save Iraq?

Isophorone said...

To many on the left, victory is not only not an option, it is a four-letter word.

Webb Democrat: Chuck Hagel is a Republican and we've been plenty critical of him.

Spank That Donkey said...

Charles said:
"disagree that we went in without a strategy. We had a strategy, but it was based on flawed intelligence (mostly from the CIA), which overrated the Iraqi state of infrastructure and their readiness for self-governance."

Don't forget even the fawanch said Sadaam had WMD... It's all BS, and history will bear that out... If "W" had let Sadaam alone, he would have only colluded with the fawanch and Russia for nuclear reactors, and then the Israeli's would be feeling the heat, and at war with all the Arab nations again...