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November 20, 2008

"The Audacity of Victory"

Important points made here:

1. There is no way to end a war but through victory or defeat. Defeat is embraced through various forms of nuanced language, such as "end it," "honorable withdrawal" and "redeploy." Victory requires no such trickery or vocabulary. Victory is victory.

2. No victory is ever assured, and not every idea or strategy is a good one. If such were the case, there would have been no need for an Iraq Study Group Report or The Surge® which ultimately defied it. But the drive for victory must remain constant; learning, adapting, lopping off the bad ideas not working and implementing new ones in their place. Likewise, an American public and political leadership must expect and demand the same rather than giving up and embracing defeat under the guise of "ending it," seeking honorable withdrawal or redeployment without defeating the enemy first.

[3 omitted, I don't get this one.]

4. There are many who deserve credit for the successful strategy that has brought victory in Iraq (one which must, naturally, be maintained and preserved), such as General David Petraeus, Fred Kagan, Jack Keane, Aussie David Kilcullen, Dr. Mary Habeck, and the list could go on to include every man and woman in and out of uniform who contributed and sacrificed. But the fact remains that only President George W. Bush made or would have made the command decision he made. Only President George W. Bush, derided and vilified, had the conviction and determination to allow a path to victory when nearly everyone else had written Iraq — and her people — off to defeat. Call it "The Audacity of Victory."

I'd add in John McCain, who was calling for a change in strategy and more troops when Bush was content to take a wait and see attitude. True, Bush still sought victory -- but he resisted a very important evaluation of how American efforts were working in 2004-2006.*

Zombietime is proclaiming Sat. Nov 22 V-I Day, Victory in Iraq Day.

I've resisted noting this because, like Allah, I'm reluctant to call victory prematurely. We did that once before (or, at least, we've been accused of doing that once before).

But it is becoming increasingly difficult -- now verging on the impossible -- for me to imagine a pathway whereby Iraq spirals back into chaos and war again. (That doesn't mean it can't happen -- I also couldn't imagine the Surge working to the extent it has, either.)

There were also political concerns about overstating victory -- leftists such as Barack Obama and Andrew Sullivan would always seize upon such statements and demand that, if we've won, well, there's no problem withdrawing our troops then is there?

But we hadn't quite won, at that point, so couldn't announce a precipitous withdrawal.

But now?

Bush, Petraeus, and all the men and women serving in Iraq (including the troops from Poland, Australia, etc., and Iraqis themselves) may just have won the war for real and for ever such that it really can't be lost at this point, even if Barack Obama tries his level best. (Short of actually arming the Iranian special forces troops murdering Americans, I mean.)

Iraq's building a 3 billion dollar subway in Baghdad.

Dana Perino says we should "celebrate the victory we've had so far."

It may be time to declare officially what everyone seems to know but is skittish about saying.

(Of course, we'll have to check with the brain trust at NBCNews first, to find out if the "Civil War" they notoriously declared in 2006 is still raging. Funny, they're rather tardy about un-declaring that.)

* As I always have to say, I'm not sure McCain really was right and Bush really was wrong. We do not know if the Surge came, as if by providence, at precisely the right time, just as the Anbar Awakening was clearing Al Qaeda out of the country and seeking peace. If the Surge had come earlier, it might have failed (the preconditions not being satisfied) and thus been discredited and never implemented when it would work.

On the other hand, a larger force might have stopped the chaos earlier.

I don't know. I'm not sure anyone truly knows.

The big questions I have are these:

1) If the 4th ID had been inserted into Iraq immediately following the fall of Baghdad (recall, it had been scheduled to enter Iraq from the north through Turkey, but Turkey balked; but then it was not inserted into the war at all, or at least not for a long time), would that have helped stop the insurrection early?

2) Did the British almost lose the war for us? By refusing to fight Moqtada al-Sadr's goons in Basra, the Brits gave them power, which they then used to start a abortive civil war with the Sunnis... what if the British had actually fought the Sadrists early and kept them from gaining the sort of power that enabled t hem to start a near (or full) civil war?

And at what point should the US have simply asked the British to go on border duty while we took over Basra (with more troops, of course)?

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posted by Ace at 04:25 PM

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