Regarding the war in Iraq, someone needs to ask George Bush, Tony Snow, and Donald Rumsfeld the following very simple question, and not take a dissertation on what the meaning of “is” is for an answer:
What, exactly, is the win condition?
What is the measurement by which we will able to know that we have won?
When the war was about finding weapons of mass destruction, one would have thought that victory might have been found in the happy discovery that there were none in the first place. When it was about toppling Saddam Hussein, surely we won on the day, shortly after the sweetly satisfying deaths of his sons, that we pulled him out of what was gleefully described as a spider hole. Perhaps victory is only a few days away, when two days before the election the big news will be his guilty verdict and death sentence. When it was about pushing back against the importation of Al Quaeda into the country, surely the death of the leader of that organization’s Iraq operations might have done the trick. When it was about bringing in democracy and establishing an elected Iraqi government with a home-grown constitution, surely we won when the elections were held. If it was about standing down when the Iraqis stand up, perhaps we can now cheer about the civilian Iraqi leader ordering our troops away from checkpoints in Baghdad a few days ago.
Maybe there’s another new, um, “benchmark” that might be set. Please, whatever it is, set it publicly. Give us an actual goal, a well defined mission, so that the rest of the country —starting with the troops themselves— can know when the mission is accomplished.
If, for example, the victory condition will be met when a relatively stable Iraq government formally invites the United States to establish a permanent military presence with U. S. bases within the country, this would be a piece of information that it might be good for the employers of the commander-in-chief, the people of the United States, to know.
Just don’t tell me that victory will only be sure when the commander-in-chief, for ever-changing undefined reasons of his own, says so. I don’t want the entire country held hostage to one man’s state of mind.
Otherwise, I’ll just go re-read George Orwell’s 1984, to remind myself what life is supposed to be like under a policy of permanent warfare.