Friday, March 14, 2008

JMO - Where is the victory

I've been listening to the news stories and interviews and reading the stories, assessments and opinions about the war in Iraq. And even to listening to the speeches of the candidates Clinton, Obama and McCain. While I have my opinion, I still haven't found an answer to the real question about Iraq.

Where is the victory?

Everyone seems to focus their definition of victory on their own personal interests, such as the war, terrorism, the troops, oil, and on and on, and they establish their own criteria on what is a victory there. But in reality, what is a real victory? Or is there really a victory such that there is no losers? Because we must not forget, if someone wins, someone loses, and history has shown losers only come back to fight another day.

Don't believe that? Try your history, especially from the Victorian times to World War II and then from there to now. Every war brought another one, in some form or manner, and nations were drawn into conflicts we thought we had solved. In short, there is no real victory, not without creating more enemies of the US by our own hand. We shouldn't forget in the future, we created them now. We won't have any excuse for our actions now when it comes back then.

And maybe the victory is in losing? No one wants the terrorists to win, but what will they win? We supported the Taliban in their war against the then Soviet Union (Charlie Wilson's war). We even supported Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden with the Taliban. Even with the knowledge he sponsored global terrorism. We knew it and we called it a victory against Communism. And now?

We reaped what we have sown? Damn, we faced our own history and it's not pretty. We supported Saddham Hussein in his rise to power in Iraq, almost from the beginning of his career. We supported him from 1980-89 in his war against Iran with money, arms and weapons, technology (esp. chemical and biological weapons), and intelligence. We turned a blind eye when he wanted to invade Kuwait.

Yes, Donald Rumsfeldt was the guy in 1989 who personally told him that. But we don't know if we set him up to invade Iraq and hopefully occupy the country for a new government more favorable to the US. We tried global geopolitics and we ended up with the results after the 1991 war. So, what didn't we learn? And what could we have done?

According to the experts, we were doing ok after 1991 and in time Saddham would have been overthrown by someone, the question is whether if Iraq would turn Sunni or Shia. But did we actually bother to learn the difference? We knew we screwed the deal with Iran with our support for the Shah who was a ruthless dictator with our money, arms and weapons, technology and intelligence.

As we went with Iran we tried with Iraq, and lost. We're doing the same thing with Saudi Arabia, but the family of Saud has a strong strangle hold on the power to be overthrown. Saudi Arabia is Sunni and Iran Shia. The kurds wants independence which neither of them and Turkey wants. So, what's the answer? Our continued presence in Iraq until it's so obvious no likes us or wants us there? And how will we know and what will we accept.

We're already the uninvited relative who overstays their welcome. But we're writing big checks, so we're tolerated. We're never going to give any government of Iraq the stuff in needs to be a real government, like arms and weapons beyond small arms to fight the insurgent and other terrorists, techonology, and intelligence. We're greedy and protective this time. We learned and we've changed our tune and tone, but what does it wrought?

And that gets back to the question, what is victory? Are we, as a nation and people ready to pay for our presence in Iraq as we currently are but more so in Korea? Are we willing to see the dead and injury reports for 10 or 20 years, the continual upsettling of the Iraq economy, the continual reports of corruption and fraud with contractors and Iraqis, the continual rhetoric about fighting terrorists wanting to attack America, the continual civil war that keeps erupting in areas we once secured or we left, and the continual drain of $200-300 Billions every year?

This isn't an ideological war anymore. This isn't a war against terrorist connected with 9/11. This isn't war about WMD's. This isn't a war about establishing a democracy. This isn't a war about America's name or integrity. This isn't a war about winning for the sake of winning. This isn't a war to absolve the dead in a lost war. So what is it?

To me, it's a hybrid between Korea and Vietnam. We will be there a long time, decades, and we will have the continued dead and injuried. We will have the continual debate about the issues for the sake of issues, but none will address the real answers and solutions. We will have the continual political rhetoric and the media sound bites reducing the complexity to cereal we'll swallow, and agree to the war budget.

Do I have any answers? Not really. Yet anyway, but I'm still listening. We can't leave and we can't stay. We must withdraw troops but increase troops. We must decide about the future of our presence. But most of all, we must learn to listen andl learn real diplomacy to get the Iraq government to resolve their own country and nation. We can't build a new nation, so we must learn to stand aside.

And maybe the answer is just what's been suggested. We can leave, despite what those that say it would be a failure or it would show we're cowards. We can leave if the Iraqis want a country and nation. And that's what victory is to me. It's not about us, something we seem to have lost the perspective, it's about them. When we will learn that, we'll have our victory, and then can decide the timetable.

So that's my question and my answer. Not much, but a better start than the rhetoric I've heard or read to date.

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