There will be no victory or defeat for the United States in Iraq. These terms do not reflect the reality of what is going to happen there. The future of Iraq was always going to be determined by the Iraqis — not the Americans.
Iraq is not a prize to be won or lost. It is part of the ongoing global struggle against instability, brutality, intolerance, extremism and terrorism. There will be no military victory or military solution for Iraq. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger made this point last weekend.
The time for more U.S. troops in Iraq has passed. We do not have more troops to send and, even if we did, they would not bring a resolution to Iraq. Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations. We are once again learning a very hard lesson in foreign affairs: America cannot impose a democracy on any nation — regardless of our noble purpose.
We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam. Honorable intentions are not policies and plans. Iraq belongs to the 25 million Iraqis who live there. They will decide their fate and form of government.
I find Hagel is a little disorienting as a conservative. He has made some brave laudable statements in the past that have acknowledged the reality of Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time he has by his votes continued the policies he condemns and has supported other Republicans whose foreign policy proclivities are extensions of the same ones that Hagel condemns. The freepers will, if they have not already labeled him a RINO just for going a little off script. That said Hagel gets it when he acknowledges that a political victory forced down the throats of the Iraqi people is impossible. Militarily the insurgents cannot win against U.S. forces, but our continued presence there will allow them to pick off our troops at the rate of a few a day for as long as we’re there and those supreme sacrifices will gain us little. The civil strife or low level civil war ( whatever we’re calling it this week) will not abate. It is unlikely that Iraq will fall into the operational arms of al-Queda. Iraq needs money and for that they need a working economy. An economy that for the foreseeable future runs on being able to produce and deliver oil.
America finds itself in a dangerous and isolated position in the world. We are perceived as a nation at war with Muslims. Unfortunately, that perception is gaining credibility in the Muslim world and for many years will complicate America’s global credibility, purpose and leadership. This debilitating and dangerous perception must be reversed as the world seeks a new geopolitical, trade and economic center that will accommodate the interests of billions of people over the next 25 years. The world will continue to require realistic, clear-headed American leadership — not an American divine mission.
The right-wing christianists are going to be a little pissed. They very much want a war against Islam and see the conflict in Iraq as just that. These right-wing Christians, as opposed to mainstream Christians are now being courted by Senator McCain(R) who coincidentally or not is calling for more troops for Iraq. If McCain’s ability to deny reality last into the primaries his chances of becoming president will be increasingly dim. The only hardcore support that “staying the course” has left is ultra-conservative evangelicals who seem to be morphing into a liability for the future of the GOP rather then the plus they used to be. Most Americans have opted to get on the reality bus with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Hagel.
If I seem harsh on Hagel compare and contrast to John writing at Ezra Klein’s blog, A Discordant Note
It is understandable that politicians are allergic to even implying that America has, in fact, been defeated in Iraq. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to ponder what else you call it when America fails to find WMDs, fails to eliminate a terrorist haven, in fact creates a terrorist haven, is unable to support it’s chosen government, is forced to withdraw from Iraq, and leaves a vacuum which Hagel acknowledges America’s rivals (if not enemies) will fill.
The common thread through Hagel’s bizarrely optimistic view of the Assad-Maliki-Ahmedinejad conference and the words “there will be no victory or defeat” in Iraq is a desire to conceal the magnitude of America’s defeat. If any country expends billions of dollars and thousands of lives and fails to achieve any meaningful objective, and ends up in a weaker position than when it began, that’s a defeat. Hagel is unwilling or unable to state that plainly, and this is dangerous.
I’m not simply trying to be churlish, here. It’s important for American policymakers to acknowledge the facts of what has actually occurred if they’re going to learn any meaningful lessons from this debacle.
Humility is not an attribute that American politicians do well, but Hagel probably gives as good as we’re going to get from conservatives. Hagel, Noonan, Kissinger and a few others are making some kind of amends after the fact and a recent historic defeat at the poll are a day late and a dollar short, as much as Democrats like John and myself my recent the too late apologists, imagine those who have lost family and friends in Iraq. No one should die tying up the loose ends of the neocon’s foreign policy fantasies.
The US had over 30,000 tons of chemical WMDs in its arsenal. Exactly who they were planning to use them on isn’t clear. The Pentagon began destroying them in 1986. Yes, that’s right. Twenty years go. And they’re not even half done. Meanwhile getting rid of them has gotten more expensive. Originally the estimate was $2 billion. Now it’s $32 billion.
Why are 99.9 percent of hate groups on the Right? I looked at my state and even though I live in the south I was a little shocked, Active U.S. Hate Groups in 2005
“To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.” Charles de Montesquieu