Thursday, January 05, 2006

Clearing the Air, The War Is Not "Lost"

For almost a year now, I've maintained an irregular email correspondence with Sandy Shanks, an American who writes editorials for al-Jazeera. My first post about Shanks, questioning his motivation for collaborating with al-Jazeera, appeared only a couple of days after I started this blog. I've featured Shanks' columns in several posts in the months since.

It's become one of those relationships peculiar to the Internet era; people you've never laid eyes on, but feel that you "know". Not all of that correspondence has been "business"; we've exchanged recollections of personal histories and banter about sporting events. Sandy seems like the kind of guy I'd enjoy having a beer with.

But we all have those folks in our life who, though likable, have an embarrassing flaw or two. The friend who slurps his soup, or farts explosively in public.

Well, Sandy has let another one slip out, and the stench is particularly strong. Sandy sees plans for force reduction in Iraq as proof that America has lost the war:
The writing is on the wall. The American people are already being prepped for withdrawal, which equates to defeat for Americans and Iraqis alike any way you look at it.
Well, no, that's simply incorrect. Sure, a cut-and-run policy, as Democrats advocate, would equate with defeat, but a measured, phased withdrawal was always in the cards as Iraqi security forces take over more of the burden.

Shanks sees the President as responsible for "defeat".
American resolve is not being weakened by those who wish a precipitate withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. American resolve and our military leadership are endangered by the President of the United States.
Yes, if you interpret any withdrawal of US troops as "losing", the Commander-in-Chief is the one who will order troops out. But, if you agree with Shanks' characterization (which I don't), then you have to lay the blame on those who have sought so hard to make staying politically untenable, i.e., the lunatic fringe of the Democratic Party. Shanks isn't even being consistent within his own twisted logic.

This is the passage I found most offensive:
Ignoring for the moment that we are not fighting terrorists, but Iraqis, members of the Sunni Arab resistance, al-Qaida of Iraq notwithstanding, as a student of military history, never have I heard such an ignominious "strategy for victory".
The so-called "insurgents" no longer even make much of a pretense of being a military force. Yesterday, the "insurgents" murdered 32 people at a funeral. That is a terrorist act, and it is typical of the insurgency, or "resistance", as Shanks often refers to them. US casualties have almost become collateral damage as the Sunnis, Baathists, and al Qaeda members who compose the terrorist insurgency continue a campaign of terror.

They have no hope of military victory, but they can still achieve the same sort of political victory that the North Vietnamese won. But that battleground is in the halls of Congress, not the streets of Baghdad, and even though we seem to have a large supply of political opportunists eager to betray their country in exchange for the White House and a few more seats on the Hill, progress has been steady in Iraq.

Sandy, this one reeks. What the hell have you been eating?

Also posted at The Jawa Report.