Friday, April 27, 2007

What we're really fighting about

Josh Marshall has an important post about "winning in Iraq" -- what it meant originally, what, if anything, it means now. I think he's onto something fundamental (emphasis mine):
It's often been noted that we've had a difficult time explaining or figuring out just who we're fighting in Iraq. Is it the Sunni irreconcilables? Or is it Iran and its Shi'a proxies? Or is it al Qaida? The confusion is not incidental but fundamental. We can't explain who we're fighting because this isn't a war, like most, where the existence of a particular enemy or specific danger dictates your need to fight. We're occupying Iraq because continuing to do so allows us to pretend that the initial plan wasn't completely misguided and a mistake.
He argues that any talk of "winning" or "losing" is meaningless, although I would counter that "losing" is just shorthand for "have nothing further productive to gain," and that most Americans understand it that way. Anyway, he goes on to say,
The reality though is that the disaster has already happened. Admitting that isn't a mistake or something to be feared. It's the first step to repairing the damage. What the president has had the country in for four years is a very bloody and costly holding action. And the president has forced it on the country to avoid admitting the magnitude of his errors.
peace ribbonThis is the critical truth, and I think it's precisely the way that the Democrats should be explaining this. Unfortunately, we have two more years of Bush at the top, and it's clear that appearances (esp. admitting no mistakes) are much more important to him than realities (such as coming up with any Plan B for ending this mess). Too bad for those still on the front lines...

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