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Dominoes of Defeat

This simply must be read.

Some opponents of the Iraq war are toying with the idea of American defeat. A number of them are simply predicting it, while others advocate measures that would make it more likely. Lending intellectual respectability to all this is an argument that takes a strange comfort from the outcome of the Vietnam War. The defeat of the American enterprise in Indochina, it is said, turned out not to be as bad as expected. The United States recovered, and no lasting price was paid.

We beg to differ.

Once with opposing views of the Viet Nam war, Peter W. Rodman and William Shawcross agree on the cost of politically induced voluntary failure in Iraq. Later in their commentary, they continue with vigor.

Today, in Iraq, there should be no illusion that defeat would come at an acceptable price. George Orwell wrote that the quickest way of ending a war is to lose it. But anyone who thinks an American defeat in Iraq will bring a merciful end to this conflict is deluded. Defeat would produce an explosion of euphoria among all the forces of Islamist extremism, throwing the entire Middle East into even greater upheaval. The likely human and strategic costs are appalling to contemplate. Perhaps that is why so much of the current debate seeks to ignore these consequences.

And indeed those consequences are ignored. Consider that Pakistan is like a domino falling in slow motion with al-Qaeda rebuilt beyond pre-9/11 strength and facilities. When Pakistan falls, the Saudi Arabian domino with then proceed with greater alacrity, and the dynamic of this conflict will undertake a profound shift.

Some among those who criticize our engagement in the Iraq War, when confronted with descriptions of "defeatism," suggest that they would focus more intently on Afghanistan, where "the real fight" (with al-Qaeda) is. Unfortunately, even a complete shift of US forces into Afghanistan from Iraq would not address this, as the al-Qaeda enemy makes its home in Pakistan. Are they then advocating an invasion of Pakistan?

If we allow defeat in Iraq considering this greater context, what then of those who "advocate measures that would make it more likely?"

No, the conflict will not end with our 'redeployment' from Iraq. Not if redeployed to Afghanistan, nor if redeployed to Camp Pendleton. It almost certainly would, however, fuel the fire and spark a regional blaze with dominoes teetering.

And this is to say nothing of the Iraqi killing fields that would engulf them. When is the last time you heard a Congressional critic reference the Iraqi people? And why not? Because they dare not. In order to maintain their vested positions, they simply must "ignore these consequences."

And those among them with a conscience will hauntingly find peaceable sleep a fleeting commodity. Those without will relish in their political victory with eyes averted. But history will not be kind.

4 Comments

Has anyone in a senior leadership capacity defined what constitutes "victory" and what constitutes "defeat" in Iraq? That should have been done in 2002 during the planning phase of this war, but I haven't seen any evidence that it was done then, or has been done since.

If there is to be a serious discussion about the ramifications of victory or defeat in Iraq, we have to announce a plan with a beginning, middle and end, which incorporates a scheduled transition of Iraqi forces to replace U.S. forces, and the establishment of a multi-state Iraq. That should certainly be acheivable, and it would be an undeniable victory for everyone involved.

Steve --

I agree but it's a done deal. America knew this, voted Dem, and want to surrender in Iraq and Afghanistan. No one believes the platitudes about fighting in Afghanistan.

The broad American public decided to surrender to bin Laden and will take almost any terms.

It's far more important to figure out how we fight from the Continental US, and how we respond to the loss of our cities which will happen. So we must start drawing lines now on how we respond. What we will do. Because it will happen.

We will surrender in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can't sustain even 3,000 casualties. That alone guarantees a nuclear attack on us. So we must head off the Obama-Edwards move to pre-emptive surrender.

Boy, are you the connoisseur of consistent conflict!

While your arguments make sense on a certain level they are basically unworkable. The Vietnam war ended because the South Vietnamese themselves would not fight and die for a government they had no interest in and the same, unfortunately, is true in Iraq today. That puts the onus on US forces which then becomes unacceptable to the US public who do not see the immediate threat to the US especially in light of the much ballyhooed faulty intelligence.

With today's instant news coverage any war must be fought quickly and decisively before combat deaths and collateral damage become an issue. Fighting war of attrition is not the way to go. In Afghanistan, the key to ultimate victory was the area of Tora Bora where the Talliban and probably OBL had retreated. A couple of well placed tactical nuclears would have ended that conflict and stunned the enemy if not the world. Then you can sit back and comfortably say, "Next!"

Let me continue with my diatribe. If, as people are saying that we can't win wars of attrition and we can't wars of destruction with Jihadists----then what to do? We can take a lesson from WW II. After the two, relatively low yield nukes, Japan was destroyed both in morale and structure. Then the Marshall Plan, some guy named Deming and we're all friends now and no need to mention the war!

Perhaps a similar solution is needed now when the situation becomes untenable. Virtually vanquish the enemy, then help them rebuild under a new regime and then we'll be friends and no need to mention the....

Of course the one obstacle I see is that Japan was a homogeneous country with no inherent hatred of the USA. But on the other hand religious wars require the enemy to be utterly destroyed.