Long-time readers of this blog have no doubt noticed that it has changed over the years. Initially posting was almost daily and focused on politics, grand strategy and world events. There was also a good bit of gun-blogging as well.
Over the last few years, that has changed. Posts happen several times a week instead of daily, they mostly focus on sports, in-state politics and sometimes touch on the national and international scene.
Partly this is a function of our schedule: T-Mo and I are busier now and simply don’t have the time to do a daily morning update.
At the same time, the world is a more depressing place than it was when we began. Rather than chronicle the unfolding debacles in economic and foreign policy, we – like a good many Americans – are turning to the things that make us happy.
Since we get paid the same whether we write about something we enjoy or not, we choose to go where the fun is.
That being said, the president’s weekend announcement that the war in Iraq is “over,” cannot pass without comment.
The political calculus here is both obvious and pathetic. Having failed to negotiate a long-term American strategic presence, the administration is trying to make the best of its failed policies. Essentially it is “declaring victory and going home.”
That phrase has been thrown around a lot lately, mostly by the left.
NOTE: I won’t say “anti-war” because it is now clear that the “peace protesters” don’t give a crap about non-violence. The war in Libya was unauthorized and bloody and represents an open-ended commitment of the worst kind, yet not a peep was uttered against it. These people were nothing more than partisans reaching for anything at hand to throw at George W. Bush. But I digress.
The left focuses on language a lot, and often it’s thumb-sucking think pieces focus not on whether their policies work but whether they’ve named them correctly. Take the American Jobs Act. It’s nothing but a sop to unions – Stimulus II: Electric Boogaloo. It won’t create any private sector jobs, but no matter. It’s got a catchy name and that should poll well.
Similarly, the deep-thinkers in the White House believe that simply announcing “WE WIN!” will magically place the laurels of victory around the president’s head – at the same time placating the peace lobby within his political base who – despite the aforementioned cynicism, actually do find all this drone-missile assassination/open-ended undeclared warfare stuff a little unpalatable.
It won’t work.
In the real world, no one cares what you call it – what matters is reality.
Wisconsin could declare that it actually “won” in East Lansing this weekend. It could announce that the final play was a fluke and therefore it won. Its press office could refer to the Badgers as undefeated in all news releases. But it wouldn’t be true.
Similarly, our enemies in the Middle East don’t much care whether we claim we are victorious or not, all they know is that we are leaving and doing it on unfavorable terms. We have to pull 40,000 troops and their equipment out in a couple of months. Iraq’s fragile government is under considerable strain already and it is unclear how much protection their military will provide us.
The knock against the United States has always been that we don’t stick around – particularly in Iraq. In 1991, we urged the Iraqi people to rise up and that sat and watched Saddam Hussein butcher them. When we invaded in 2003, our potential allies held back because they expected a repeat of our previous behavior.
We insisted it was different and certainly we’ve shown more stamina, but now the long-expected flight is on. I am at a loss as to why any Iraqi soldiers would exert themselves to defend our bases or personnel at this point.
At the same time, every surviving radical in Iraq – Sunni or Iranian-backed Shiite – will probably come at us as hard as they can, hoping to cause as much damage as possible. Their goal is a headline stating that November and December were the two bloodiest months in years. If they can get anything going at all, they can turn the entire campaign around in the public mind and turn the orderly withdrawal into a disorderly retreat.
Let there be no mistake: I know our troops are supremely professional and I guarantee every unit commander has set a goal of losing not one G.I. during this final operation. They are looking to Dunkirk and Gallipoli – the latter was performed flawlessly without losing a single soldier.
But both of those operations were defeats, the last heroic act of an doomed campaign.
No victorious army ever has to withdraw under a strict timeline while harried by the enemy. If the US decided to remove its bases in Germany, or Japan, we would do so safely and peacefully. When we closed our bases in the Philippines, we did so without fuss or drama.
That latter example provides a useful contrast. Facing escalating financial demands for basing rights that no longer mattered, the administration of George H.W. Bush decided to leave. And that was that. We left. No drama, no bombs, just a historical footnote as Clark Field and Subic Bay Naval Base were turned over to the Philippine government.
I doubt the Iraq drawdown will be as smooth.