Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Poddy and Iraq-nam

As I recall, there are some people who argue that we won the Vietnam War. The problem was that the South Vietnamese lost after we gave what we had won back to them.

In essence, the idea was to divide the Vietnam War into two separate wars, so that the final outcome would not be seen as our loss.

This column by John Podhoretz seems to me to be in the same vein.

I think that one can clearly divide the Iraq War into two wars: the war for conquest and the war to maintain occupation. We clearly won the first, throwing out Saddam and taking over the capital in three weeks.

The second we have not won.

Podhoretz's attempt to divide the second Iraq War in two, into a second and third war, strikes me as disingenuous.

The division he wants us to believe in is thus:

The grinding Second War may have come to a successful conclusion due to two events: The formation of the Iraqi government on May 20 and the killing of Zarqawi on June 8. The inability of the enemies of progress to prevent the government from coming to power must have been a huge blow, and certainly the death of its key strategist may have been the coup de grace. The Coalition casualty toll has decelerated radically in the last 9 weeks.

The milestones he cites, for one thing, are largely irrelevant. The goal of the insurgents was always to drive us out (eventually) and in the meantime to cause us as much damage and to alienate us s much from the Iraqi people as possible. Preventing elections was not essential, and the fact that we have managed to get a government set up in Iraq is hardly a defeat. What matters is whether the government actuall has control over the country, not whether we can get a bunch of politicians to agree to consider one another legitimate statesmen and so declare themselves a united government. It hardly represents a defeat for the insurgents if we get a united Iraqi government with little actual power.

Moreover, the killing of Zarqawi hardly represents the destruction of the insurgency. There are plenty more like him, and it is unlikely that he led more than a small fraction of the insurgents anyway. Referring to his death as marking the end of one phase of the war is, I think, obliquely a way to try and convince us that the insurgency was less Iraqi than it was (a facorite tactic of the neocons, who would have us believe that the insurgents are mostly foreign, when 90-96% are domestic).

Thus, we have three wars, the one against Hussein, the one against foreign fighters, and the one involving the Iraqis in a civil conflict, one which the neocons assured us would not occur (I'll try to find a reference later).

Right. Methinks that Johnny simply wants to be able to keep declaring victory if we cut and run, and is defining the "three wars" so as to save face.

On the other hand, if it gets us out of the quagmire, who am I to complain?

That is all.

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