July 09, 2007

Mission Accomplished?

According to Terence Samuel, some Democrats now think that the best way to push for withdrawal from Iraq is simply to declare victory. Here's Montana's Jon Tester: "Our work in Iraq is done... It's time for American troops to stop refereeing a centuries-old civil war and come home after a job well done." Hillary Clinton is probably going for something similar when she blames the Iraqi government for the fact that the occupation's gone so badly. The U.S. military gave it its best shot, but Iraqis fucked things up, so now, sadly, we have to leave. (Assuming she wants to leave.)

Now, okay. This is probably more politically savvy than Harry Reid saying that we need to exit Iraq because we "lost" the war. No one likes a defeatist, least of all American voters. And I'm mostly in favor of whatever political strategy gets the U.S. out of Iraq as quickly as humanly possible. But I'm also not terribly in favor of lying. The United States didn't do a "job well done." It's not the Iraqis fault that the Bush administration, with no small amount of malice and recklessness, smashed their country and could not (or would not) create the conditions for a stable new state. And so on.

More importantly, these myths have consequences. Part of the reason so many people supported the war in Iraq—and why they support all sorts of ill-conceived wars—is that many Americans believe that the United States is always virtuous; that our leaders' intentions are always honorable; that when the president says that he's going to war for the sake of freedom and democracy, he means it; and that the U.S. military is only ever used for benevolent and noble ends. Not to be too shrill about it, but these are the sort of myths that enable war and imperialism, and Tester is trying to perpetuate them. So... I don't know about this one.
-- Brad Plumer 10:11 PM || ||