Oh I know, I know, we lost the war in Vietnam, were humiliated, and we're never going to let it happen again. But that's the whole point. We're always going to end up losing when we intervene in these civil wars and try to prop up a puppet regime in a country that basically doesn't exist.
How many times do we have to learn this lesson? There is no Iraqi democracy. All there is are Sunni and Shi'ites who have been fighting each other since 700 A.D. It's humiliating to watch President Bush playing Br'er Rabbit with this Tar Baby, crying, "Where are you Iraqis? Why don't they stand up?" They only exist in his imagination. Prime Minister Maliki isn't George Washington, he's a frightened bureaucrat trying to avoid being assassinated. He can't "disarm the Shi'ite militia," they're the ones who keep him in power. They're already killing television comedians, university professors, anyone who represents normal life. They'd kill him in an instant if he turned against them.
Bush had his Clark Clifford moment when Baker and company handed him The Iraq Report. Amazingly, he didn't take it. Instead, he was reportedly won over by Fred Kagan's "Choosing Victory," cooked up at the American Enterprise Institute.
I would challenge anyone to read this report. Here's the way Kagan begins:
* American resources are great: 300 million people, $12 trillion in GDP compared to 25 million Iraqis, $100 billion in Iraq GDP in a country the side of California.
* Success requires effort and will, but we need not choose to lose.
It's interesting that he implies we're at war with the whole country. I thought we were supposed to be defending somebody? Someone should also inform Kagan of Archimedes' principle. The force of an object at the end of a lever is its weight times the distance. We may have six zillion times the wealth of the Shi'ite militia, but the war is being fought on their home territory. By the time a U.S. soldier starts poking through the warrens of Sadr City, all that wealth back home has been reduced to his rifle and body armor against a bunch of IEDs and AK-47's.
Kagan's analysis simply reprises the joke that circulated around the army in 1970. The Pentagon hires a huge computer, plugs in all the data about comparative forces, and asks, "How long is it going to take us to win in Vietnam?" The answer comes back, "You won back in 1965."
The best suggestion I've heard is this. Let's schedule a referendum for March asking the Iraqis if they want us to go or stay. They're a democracy, right? Let them decide. If they want us to stay, then we've answered the world. If they want us to go, then we can withdraw with honor.
A referundum of the Iraqis as to whether they want us to stay or go? Good idea, but if you think Bush would permit that, just on the off chance (cough!) it might not go his way, then I've got this nice bridge for you...
As to 'honor', in the main, our troops have acquitted themselves with honor. For far long enough. Bring them home.
This nation's leaders have no concept of the meaning of the word. They confuse it with 'vanity' and being the biggest dog on the block or else. Which they're not.
There is no 'honor' in lying to get your way at the expense of everybody else.