Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Two Questions With No Answers

1. The U.S. in Iraq: What does “win” mean?

Recently a number of American officials and self-styled savants have used the word “win” with reference to the future course of the U.S. war in Iraq. “We either win within six months or we’re facing a Viet Nam collapse.” “If we win in Iraq. . .” “If we don’t win in Iraq. . .” “We must win in Iraq or else. . .”

None of those people bothered to explain what “win” means. To win a war usually means to accept the surrender of the enemy, or it may mean erasing the enemy from existence. Sometimes it might mean simply occupying and holding certain territory.

The Bush gang began the war with the single declared intention of eliminating “weapons of mass destruction”. Well, that was either very easy or impossible, depending on how you look at it, because there were no weapons of mass destruction. So, by one way of reckoning, the U.S. had won the war before it started it.

Then came “regime change”. This idea was related to Paul Wolfowitz’ declaration that the U.S. would “end states” that supported terrorism. Sadaam was such a bad man that he must have supported “terrorism”, and it was a good thing to invade his country even if it did not have weapons of mass destruction. As it predictably turned out, there was no Iraqi support for “terrorism” and never had been. Nevertheless, the U.S. government said that the president of Iraq was really, really bad, and so must be caught and killed . . . which he was.

War won? Apparently not. Now the kaleidoscopic rationales for the war had shifted to the bringing of “freedom” and “democracy” to Iraq. An election was held. A puppet government was sheltered in the fortified Green Zone. War won? Not yet. For some reason a lot of Iraqi people are still killing Americans as well as one another. Does this mean that to “win”, the U.S. must stay until no gunshot is heard anywhere in Iraq, and a democratically elected government is in routine operation without special protection, and the people of Iraq are once more peacefully engaged in the daily pursuit of prosperity and happiness?

I can imagine no possible sequence of events in Iraq which would enable the U.S. to honestly declare a “win”. Anyway, how do you know you’ve won if you don’t know what winning means? If “win” isn’t defined, then you can simply say you’ve won no matter what happens. Another advantage of the confusion is that if you can’t win, you also can’t lose. All of which is of course insane . . . like the whole war from its inception.

2. The Usraeli-manufactured Iran “crisis”: What is the point?

The following excerpts from USAToday, "Iran's Military Poses Little Threat", make a good case that Iran is in actuality a weak military power rather than a strong military power which could be “a threat to the region”. In addition, Iran has shown no expansionist tendencies, and any possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon is more than a decade away.

If the report below is true, then the U.S. and Israel must know it is true, and that Iran is weak militarily (very weak compared to Israel and the U.S.). My question is: That being the case, what is the motivation of Washington and Israel to portray Iran as a strong power and a threat to Israel (which is what “threat to its neighbors” means in Zionese and Washingtonspeak)? If you know that Iran is nothing to fear, then why depict it as something to fear?

I don’t know the answer.

Here’s the gist of the report:

‘ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran's outdated military presents little current threat to its neighbors, despite the fierce rhetoric from its hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, military analysts said Monday at a security conference here in the Persian Gulf.
‘Iran has exaggerated its military capabilities, while U.S. and Israeli leaders have engaged in "provocative rhetoric" that overstates the Iranian threat, said Anthony Cordesman of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. In reality, Iran is more focused on national defense than using military power to boost its influence in the region, he said.
‘Iran represents "a force that has to be taken seriously in the defense of its country, but it has very little capacity to project outside the country,"
‘For Iran to obtain an effective [nuclear] arsenal, a nuclear weapon development program “ would have to be pushed by multiple Iranian regimes for as long as 15 years, he said.”’


Zoey & Me said...

Good post Fleming. It's so horribly confusing that my head hurts thinking about it. Win,lose, can't win, can't lose, no one really knows why we are still there. Glad to see the Brits moving out.

homeyra said...

I think you are wrong and you miss the winning aspect of the war.
So far some real state - huge Embassy, air bases, are won. The Oil is "won". A local para-military is won, in the next war you won't have to count American soldiers.
Similar acquisitions in the neighboring countries are next. The perspective to postpone for a few decades calm an prosperity in the Muddled-East is the bonus.

N. said...

My answer to Q 1

And my answer to Q 2

Fleming said...

Homeyra and Zoey&me, thanks for both of your comments.

Homeyra, I'm reading your blog to help me be sure I'm interpreting your comment correctly. Thanks for visiting.

Daniel said...

With America leading the charge, it's a lose-lose situation for everyone! What about the Alamo?

Kathy said...

Hi Fleming :)

I'm such a quote freak...I thought you might like these!

"Give me the money that has been spent in war and I will clothe every man, woman, and child in an attire of which kings and queens will be proud. I will build a schoolhouse in every valley over the whole earth. I will crown every hillside with a place of worship consecrated to peace". -Charles Sumner

War does not determine who is right - only who is left. ~Bertrand Russell

It'll be a great day when education gets all the money it wants and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy bombers. ~Author unknown, quoted in You Said a Mouthful edited by Ronald D. Fuchs

Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind. ~John F. Kennedy, 1961

Fleming said...

Kathy, I like all your quotes, but especially the idea of the Air Force bake sale. That's great. Made me laugh.

Thanks for contributing.

J said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.