Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Shape Of Defeat

When you only fight half a war, the whole war cannot be won. And any war that is fought, by whatever rationale, without absolute, comprehensive victory as its final objective, will invariably be lost because the American public will not support it indefinitely.

For years, we defenders of Operation Iraqi Freedom were successful in propping up that necessary public support for the Iraq project because we had the better arguments. Or, rather, we had the only rational arguments, mustered against an opposition that did nothing more than hurl seditious Vietnam-era "anti-war" bromides and Bushophobic invective. But with no follow-up campaigns to liberate Syria and Iran, and therefore leaving those two undefeated enemies to wage war against us assymmetrically in Iraq and drag out the process of pacifying and securing the country, the question became how long it would take for the American people to start figuring out that there really was no endgame to this particular status quo.

We got that answer two weeks ago. Now, already, 2008 GOP presidential hopefuls are scattering to the four winds as to what to do about the war next.

Darth Queeg (aka Senator John "Sailor" McCain) says "send in more troops," as he's been saying consistently over the past few years. Not exactly what the public wants to hear, judging by the midterm election results.

Retiring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is hedging by calling for a "bipartisan discussion" on how victory is to be defined. In the current atmosphere that sounds to me like the formula for another Saigon, April 1975.

Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), the outgoing House Armed Services Committee Chairman and (who knew?) REALLLLY long-shot, dark-horse, no-chance-in-hell presidential non-contender, is pushing Iraqification, another echo of the Nixon/Vietnam era.

Senator Chuck Hagel, an even longer shot than Representative Hunter, is the bridge to the Democrats' "RETREEEEEEEEEAT!!!!!" position in his expressed view that, "The time for more troops is past. There's not going to be a military resolution that decides the outcome of Iraq. It will be a political solution." Aka the Baker/Hamilton "report" that will call, in effect, for handing Iraq over to Syria and Iran.

You'll notice that nowhere in any of the above, nor former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's planned "third conservative missionary journey," is there anything about actually winning the war, which is not limited to Iraq. McCain comes closest, but even he is not saying what needs to be said about what has to be done. If we don't do what needs to be done, if we don't take the belated steps necessary to win the war ASAP, and with Islamist/apocalypticist Iran joining the nuclear weapons club, the war that (according to AP/Ipsos) 58% of American "adults" think was a "mistake" will get a lot hotter, a lot costlier, and will come back home with a blistering vengeance.

Not to put myself over as any kind of Churchillian prophet, but three years ago I was arguing that liberating Iraq was not enough. That view was condemned to my electronic face as "madness." My retort was straightforward: the same thing was said by the Stanley Baldwins and Neville Chamberlains about pre-empting Nazi Germany in the late 1930s before Adolph Hitler could plunge the world into his brand of the abyss.

As the Autolite pitchman used to say, "You can pay me now, or pay me later."

It's at times like these that being an amateur history buff is a real cross.

UPDATE: Senator Sam Brownback has volunteered to be the Phil Gramm of the 2008 GOP presidential primaries.

UPDATE II: Just as the assassination of Rafik Hariri heralded Syria's retreat from Lebanon (the fabled "Cedar Revolution"); the assassination of Christian anti-Syrian leader Pierre Gemayel presages Syria's return.

Hezbollah, of course, has remained throughout.

UPDATE III: You want a sneak preview of the Iraq issue in 2008? Forget "Stay or 'redeploy'?" and try "Who lost Iraq?" Or perhaps even, "Who lost Israel?"

Getting Iraq back in the face of Iranian nuclear blackmail will not, I'm educatedly guessing, be on the table. At least not until our own nuclear 9/11, anyway.