If efforts in Iraq do not retain the support of the American people, the war will be lost as soundly as if our forces were defeated in battle. A renewed effort at home starts with explaining precisely what is at stake in this war to ensure that Americans fully understand the high cost of a military defeat.
Now wait just one damn minute here. For one, those two sentences don't really fit together. The first seems to be speaking metaphorically -- "as if our forces were defeated in battle" -- while the second seems to threaten the real thing -- "the high cost of a military defeat."
I grant the high cost. I believe there's a saying to the effect that while winning a war costs a huge amount of money, resources, and lives, losing one costs everything you have. But that's not what we're looking at.
A military defeat? Is there the slightest chance that American troops in Iraq will be compelled to surrender to superior force? No, none at all. And that is what a military defeat is.
No, a defeat in Iraq would be a political defeat. A defeat resulting from a failure to understand what the military can and cannot do, a failure to understand both the country of Iraq and the region, a failure to understand the resentment people feel towards a foreign occupancy and the risks of an insurgency, and so on.
But of course McCain mutters about the threat of a military defeat. A military defeat can be blamed on the military. The blame for a political defeat must be laid at the feet of the politicians who led us into this situation and supported it. Like John McCain.