Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Instant, Sure-Fire, Politically Viable, Guaranteed Way to Get Out of Iraq Now

The Democrats and Republicans who oppose Bush's war in Iraq face a political quandary--pulling the plug on the war seems (or can be portrayed as) pulling the plug on the American troops before they've finished their mission there. But the mission there has become so complex, and so interwoven with other issues, that it's become a Gordian Knot--so intricately interwoven it can not be untangled. Well, the myth tells us that the real Gordian Knot was undone with a simple slice of a sword. Similarly, opponents of the war can slice through it with an equally elegant solution, which can be summarized in two words:

Declare victory.

I know, I know...the war keeps getting deadlier all the time. Bear with me a minute, it gets even more counter-intuitive than that.

First, opponents of the war have to do something painful: Admit that Bush was right on May 1, 2003, when he said major combat operations were over in Iraq, and that the United States had prevailed. When you look at the original, congressional authorization for the use of military force in Iraq, it becomes blindingly obvious: Bush was right. We had prevailed!

At the time, the anti-war left objected to Bush's formulation for an obvious reason--Iraq was a mess and the fighting was still going on. But those conditions didn't stop Bush from declaring victory in Afghanistan and pulling out of there after just a few months. So why didn't he do the same in Iraq?

Why, in fact, did Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld eliminate victory references from Bush's speeches at the time? Keep in mind, before the anti-war left ridiculed "Mission Accomplished," Rumsfeld was against that phrasing, too. Why? He told Bob Woodward it was "too conclusive." I know the anti-war left will have trouble doing this, but it's vitally important that they believe him.

A victory declaration was not too conclusive because it neglected to account for remaining resistance. It was too conclusive, literally, because it meant the conclusion of the war. And that would mean bringing the troops home. And until the rest of the Middle East falls like dominoes into the pro-American free market, the neocons who crafted this war will never let the troops come home.

It's not just that Bush wants war with Iran. Early on in his speeches--when Iraq seemed to be going well--he spoke openly about wholesale, regional transformation. The stated goal, of course, was the lie that free democracies won't produce terrorists (like Tim McVeigh). But the real goal is economic, allowing major, western companies to get into the Middle East bigger than they are now (remember, Halliburton was doing business with Iran even after 9/11 and after the Iraq war), and with fewer nationalist/socialist impediments.

As long as Iraq is going poorly, the president can justify keeping troops there. Opposition sounds anti-soldier, like another Vietnam, like calling our troops losers. And too many politicians are afraid of the name-calling.

So do the opposite.

Call the troops winners--as Rumsfeld didn't want to do. Hail their completion of the missions laid out for them in the original authorization for the use of military force. Instead of non-binding resolutions opposing the surge, introduce binding resolutions declaring the victorious end to hostilities with Iraq, which has now been liberated and stands shoulder to shoulder with the United States as an ally against terror.

Point out, as Sen. Ted Kennedy has, time and again, that the troops have now accomplished, or rendered moot, every single goal we set for them. Rep. Murtha already says the mission has been accomplished. Iraq says their mission is done. Our own generals have said there's nothing more to be done militarily. So stop letting the White House call the troops losers, by continuing to move the bar. First it was get rid of WMD. Then it was liberate Iraq. Then it was establish democracy. Now it's to establish a democracy that meets Mr. Bush's standards. It's a shell game, and the Democrats have to stop playing it.

WMDs? Gone. Anti-American government? Gone. Pro-terrorist government? Gone. UN-defiant government? Gone. Terrorist-harboring government? Gone.

It's time for Democrats to introduce a resolution saying so, and congratulating the troops on what they accomplished. Nothing in it--yet, anyway--about bringing the troops home. Simply a declaration of victory--spelling out precisely all the goals that have been accomplished.

Let the White House and pro-war Republicans object to calling our troops winners. Let them deny our troops the victory they achieved.

In doing so, we can draw the bright, clear line that's so desperately needed in this debate between the Iraq War, authorized and won, and the Middle East War that Bush has begun, and is trying to escalate beyond Iraq's borders. Americans were willing, albeit wrongly, to take on Iraq. But the best way to assure that the nation holds a debate on the next war is to make clear to the world that the first war is over. So far, Democrats have done that by arguing that we're losing. It's time to wake up and smell the victory.


Vigilante said...

Following your link to a Rumsfeld-Woodward interview, I read Rummy speaking about occupation as a double-edged sword:

"And I always felt that foreign troops are an anomaly in a country, that eventually they're unnatural and not welcomed really. I think I used the characterization of a broken bone. If you don't set it, everything grows around the brake and you end up with that abnormality."

That's the problem, isn't it? Bush's legacy will not tolerate leaving an 'abnormality' behind in Iraq. To him, leaving behind unresolved civil strife (worse case scenario) or separate sectarian militia strong men (best case scenario) would be an intolerable mutation of 'his mission'. That is why he thinks we must 'stay the course'.

CitizenSteve said...


You're a frickin' genius.

I'm heading right out to get confetti and streamers for the victory parade.

Anonymous said...

If you visit icasualties.org you will learn the basic war consumed just over 3 weeks. Then there was a period of 12 days with no deaths due to hostile fire. On April 24, 2003 and 25th these was one hostile death each day then it was quiet until May 8th.

So from April 12th through May 7, 2003 there was "peace". That bolsters the case that the "war" was over. Then with no plan for maintaining peace during the post-war period the insurgency began.

Anonymous said...

F'ing brilliant...
I love it.....

Have Repubs vote against us winning.....

Its a win win...

If Repubs vote against it they think our troops are losers and insult the them

If they vote for it we leave....



Anonymous said...

The United States Military is to be Strongly Commended for executing a brilliant war plan and defeating Saddam in 3 weeks and a day!

Anonymous said...

And there's a good precedent as well, from the Vietnam era:

War is over over
If you want it
War is over
-John Lennon (Happy Xmas/War is Over)

I declare the war is over
It's over, it's over...
-Phil Ochs (The War is Over)


macs said...

Problem is, there is a different mission now than there was in the first attack on Iraq. I think the new mission is Operation Clear and Hold or something like that. Trust, the neocons cover their bases. In order to leave victoriously we'd have to "clear and hold" for a designated time period stated in the mission. So without accepting defeat they aint goin nowhere.

Morgan said...

What a great suggestion, I think if this idea get's enough mo'meme'ntum, we could end this damn war before Iran is attacked from both sides (Iraq and Afghanistan).

Anonymous said...

There's a certain logic to the illogic. And given the state of logic, post bush, why not?

Declare Victory. Give awards to the anti-war folk. Medals all around.

Each neighborhood can have a ceremony.

Suspend tax forms.

National healthcare for all!

Anonymous said...

Now its time to tell the Jawa Report mypetjawa.mu.nu

Anonymous said...

Your strategy to declare mission accomplished and redeploy our forces was the politically safe exit strategy chosen by both Eisenhower and Nixon to withdraw most U.S. ground forces out of Korea and, albeit more slowly, from Vietnam. The key to their political firewall was that they were Republicans cleaning up the mess created by Democratic Presidents, so the right wing of their party and in the media could do little to undermine them (in Ike's case, it even lead to the downfall of Senator Joe McCarthy, the prototypical neocon). However, if the president in January 2009 is a Democrat, s(he) will be drenched in Fox-News levels of slime every minute for the next four years for committing such an unspeakably craven, unAmerican act of betrayal. Republicans in Congress will bray until they're hoarse that the Democrat's panicky "cut and run" from Iraq robbed our noble troops of their historic victory and wasted more than 3,000 lives of their fallen brothers-in-arms. (See Hitler, Adolf for details of how easy it might be to sell this big lie that on the verge of winning the war, valiant troops were "stabbed in the back" by evil politicians.)

Anonymous said...

Hey. Tony Blair got the message and is getting a chunk of troops out. The White House is even SAYING that the British withdrawal is a sign of success.

Looks like a plan we could follow and Blair would announce we were doing it because the mission was a success.

jimbo said...

There is only one problem with leaving, and it is the problem I always had with going in -- eliminating Sadam was Iran's wet dream. If we were going to had Iran what they wanted, why not make that part of a wider reconciliation with Iran? Now we have given them what they want in such a way that they still hate us. How incredibly stupid!

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