Sunday, January 14, 2007

Lose What, Exactly?

Watched the morning chat shows and there was a lot of talk, especially from Joe Lieberman (Connecticut for Lieberman - CT) about how our only choices in Iraq are victory or defeat and how losing this war is unthinkable.

So, I've been thinking about what it would mean if we just retreated. I don't mean what it would mean for Iraq bvecause I do think we'd leave a bloodbath behind, but what would it mean for the US and its place in the world?

Not much. We wouldn't have lost to Saddam Hussein, of course. He's dead. We won't have lost to Al-Qaeda because it's not a war against Al-Qaeda, we're caught in the crossfires of a sectarian civil war that has little to do with Al-Qaeda. The war against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban is in Afghanistan. We did a good job on that one. Were we not distracted by Iraq, we could be doing an even better job (maybe we could have caught Osama by now).

I suppose that countries like North Korea and Iran might think we don't have staying power and they might continue to pursue their nuclear weapons programs in the face of American weakness. But, it seems just as easy to argue that the fact that we invaded Iraq caused both of those countries to accelerate their nuclear efforts as a deterrent.

I suppose some will worry about a repeat of the post Viet Nam effect where a war weary American public was generally unwilling to support grand foreign adventures. But, given all the meddling we did in Central and South America during and after Viet Nam and that we also pursued a pretty hard line stance against the Soviet Union, I don't get why that would be such a bad thing. The US was still able to pursue its international interests after Viet Nam. If leaving Iraq just means it's going to be two decades before we invade another country and get involved in a civil war, then that in itself seems like a great reason to leave Iraq.

What's really interesting is that the current polls seem to show that the American people are not overly concerned about whether or not we "lose" in Iraq. It would hardly be a stinging loss (we couldn't pacify the country once it erupted into civil war, but who could?) and it's not even a war that we had to fight in the first place.

What this is really all about are the legacies of Bush and his Senate allies like Joe Lieberman who got us into this war in the first place. But their legacies will be tarnished by this grand mistake no matter what they do. It's time for them to face that.

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