Achieving victory, one Applebees at a time
The difference between winning and losing is typically as apparent as the contrast between black and white.
However, that’s when you’re talking about whether or not the Mariners scored more runs than the Yankees.
Attempting to discern what a win in Iraq is for the United States and our allies, however, becomes much more difficult to pinpoint. Nobody knows exactly how Iraq would look, if we reached what could be reasonably defined as victory.
The National Strategy for Victory in Iraq - posted on Whitehouse.gov, the official Web site for administration policies - “The United States is fully committed to meeting this challenge. We will do everything it takes to win.” The site also goes on to say that, “With resolve, victory will be achieved [in Iraq], although not by a date certain.”
And then the document quickly lowers expectations saying that unlike past wars, victory will not come in the form of an enemy’s surrender or be signaled by a particular event. Ok, well, then why exactly are we still sending troops and a large portion of the national treasure inside of Pandora’s Opened Box, essentially escalating a civil war? What will it mean to be on the winning side? And who will we defeat?
According to the almost comical “Strategy for Victory,” victory will usher in a secure Iraq that is committed to fighting terrorism, able to hold democratic elections and is integrated into the international community. So, basically, they want the future of Iraq to model that of present day Wisconsin, equipped with strip malls and enough chain restaurants to satisfy every culinary craving. And don’t even think about failure, because “failure is not an option,” which the document repeatedly states.
That is all fine and dandy and would taste nice with a little whip cream and a rotating, red cherry on top, but Iraq is so far from the Never Never Land model spun by these naive hacks that our goal has seemingly become to leave the country just a little less fucked up than it was in 2003. But the Bush gang keeps pushing for more time, money, troops and patience - as if the finish line is looming around the corner. It is not and will not be anytime soon.
Even Republican constituents are starting to distance themselves from the sheriff, as they face reelection problems looming in 08.’ Eleven G.O.P. House members met with Tex in the Oval Office last week, telling Bush starkly that he has lost all credibility on the issue and that any so-called “success reports” have to come from Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top military commander in Iraq. And John Boehner, House Minority Leader, told Chris Wallace that if this new surge strategy wasn’t working by September, he’d want to know what Plan B is. I am not exactly sure what Boehner means by his “morning after pill” reference, but you can bet it pissed the administration off something fierce.
The problem, of course, is that these well-dressed clowns never really knew what they wanted from this masquerade. Or if they did, they sure have had a hard time communicating it effectively. By refusing to acknowledge anybody else’s standard for progress or failure, after four years and change, they find themselves locked inside an impenetrable bubble where their steadfastness is now viewed by nearly 3/4 of the public as either moronic or stubbornly childish.
Cheering for victory in Iraq has become similar to cheering for the referees in the Super Bowl. Our goal has morphed into securing local markets so Iraqis can go grocery shopping without getting slaughtered. We need to make sure they have electricity, a suitable infrastructure (similar to the one we leveled) and kidnapping and bloodletting must clearly be reduced dramatically in order for civility to return. The U.S. military is a large police force, not a warrior band of Crusaders hoping to sprinkle freedom dust on every child of Babylon.
That may sound like a dull mission, with little opportunities for patriotic sloganeering, but it’s how success - or victory, if you must - will be measured in the future.
M.W. Fritz is a freelance journalist based out of Washington D.C. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.