Saturday, April 19, 2008

Straight Talk Indeed

It's a pity that people who really care about this election turn to the media only to find blathering about lapel pins and bowling scores, rather than, say, how to fix the economy. Not helpful. But in this Internet age at least we can go to the candidates' websites and find out from them directly what we want to know. But sometimes that's not much better. I found this on John McCain's site, from his page on Iraq, section "Winning the Homefront"

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.


Don said...

I guess you object to this simplification in which he says retreat will be like defeat, so let's just call it defeat. I object too, on the grounds that use of the word is emotionally manipulative. So, do the American people understand the high cost of an about face? I don't think we do. I think the cost will be so high we will be unable to see what really happened. Comes from no decent history classes.

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