A couple times over the past few days I’ve had what seems to be a recurring discussion with many of my contemporaries (the gay ones, not the military ones) about Iraq. The usual dialog goes kind of like this:
The Other Fag: Dude, we’re failing miserably in Iraq.
ColoradoPatriot: Oh? How so?
TOF: Are you kidding? All the bombings, all the death and destruction. The insurgency.
CP: You know that, by historical standards, that’s not really true. And also, when you think about it, the war’s only been going on for a few years. It’s probably a little too soon to say we’re “losing”, don’t you think? So if we’re failing, what’s your definition of “victory”?
TOF: Well, we should never have gone in there in the first place. WMD, bla bla bla, Bush LIED!, 9/11, yadda yadda, scare-tactics, etc., etc.
CP: (Silence, and a look of puzzlement.)
What’s going on in my head as I stare blankly is, “If you think we should have never gone there in the first place, why the hell should I give a rat’s ass what you think of our ‘victory’ or ‘failure’? Seems you’d never be satisfied with any outcome, you know, since we’re, um, there and all.”
These folks have no solution for “winning” the war, because their vision of “winning” is so drastically different from reality. As far as they’re concerned, simply our being there is a failure. From their perspective, there can be no winning because their view of victory (us never having been there) is simply unattainable. I call these people Time-Machine Strategists. Their best hope for success in Iraq (as they see it) is to invent a time-machine, go back to 2003, and never have gone in in the first place. This is not a strategy, it’s a science-fiction novel premise. Whatever we may see as victory, they never will.
It’s not that, as some say, they’re seeking our defeat. It’s just that they have a completely different definition of success…one that just so happens to be completely impossible.
We can talk about schools being built and people going to work and hundreds of newspapers and internet cafes. We can talk about progress with infrastructure, politics, and self-policing. All of this falls on deaf ears.
It reminds me of my new favorite online cartoon: “How Superman Should Have Ended“…Basking in the glow of his most recent victory over Lex Luthor, the Man of Steel is chatting it up with his buddy Batman in a coffeeshop. The Caped Crusader is going on about how he‘d have handled the situation, using tools on his ubiquitous utility belt. Not even realizing how outdone he is by Superman, he lays out how he’d have done it just as well. Annoyed, Kal-El quips back, “It’s cool…just, whenever you get a Fly-So-Fast-It-Reverses-Time-Itself gadget on your belt, let me know.”
Not sure if the detractors have anything on their belt to succeed in Iraq. But based on the way they like to frame the debate, I’d just as soon leave it to those who take actually winning in Iraq seriously…criticize their plans all you like (and there certainly is room for criticism); at least they know that they want to win.