No matter how bad or how good Iraq gets from day to day, the war is always reported as a worst case scenario by a mainstream media that hates George Bush more than it loves America. Simply put, the war coverage is being slanted with the conscious intent of demoralizing America’s will to fight, so that a defeat can be hung round the neck of Bush and the GOP. This is a supremely immoral act, since Bush does not have an Army in Iraq — America does.
It is not “Bush’s War”; it is an American War. And any defeat will wound America long after George Bush has returned home to Texas to write books and play on his hobby farm. So let’s take a step back from the political spin and consider what a worst case in Iraq would actually look like, because we haven’t seen anything close.
A true defeat in Iraq — withdrawing under fire, Saigon style, and allowing the insurgents to flood into the streets (and onto the airwaves) declaring uncontested victory — would be a disaster unparalleled in American history. In an afternoon, it would destroy America’s reputation as a military power for at least a generation. Stop and imagine how the world would react to seeing America’s soldiers running from a fight we started, while our enemies’ propaganda machine goes into overtime crowing about the weakness of the United States and the power of jihad, terrorism, suicide bombing and radical Islam.
Our enemies would be energized as only victory can energize a movement. And a victory on such a history-changing scale would send shockwaves of confident jihadis throughout the Middle East and the world. Kiss Saudi Arabia goodbye as you know it today, because it will fall to a bin Laden clone in short order, and Jordan would be lucky to escape the same fate. Millions of Sunni Arabs and the world’s largest oil supply will become resources in the hands of fanatics who hate America and believe the fastest way to defeat it is direct violent attack.
If we run, the Shiites that are currently our nominal allies in Iraq will feel betrayed and disgusted by America and will likely openly align themselves with Shiite powerhouse Iran, whose aid they will need in fighting a true all-out civil war with the Sunni population. Iran’s de facto Shia Empire will then extend from the Afghan border to metastases on the Mediterranean and it will control even more oil.
Regardless of who wins, loses or draws in the conflict that will follow our retreat, the region will be filled with refugee camps the size of major cities — an ideal breeding ground from which to recruit terror disciples for both “victorious” Sunnis and betrayed Shiites. All will see America as a weak enemy and a worthless friend.
America currently has only two true friends in the Middle East: Israel and the Kurds of Iraq. Once we run, we’ll lose the Kurds like we lost the friends we had in Vietnam. The Kurds will fight on, and probably survive. But they’ll know how truly useless we are as long term allies.
Terrorism in Europe and America will spike and remain high. And why wouldn’t it? Nothing succeeds like success. The radicalization if Islam will be complete. Once the sole superpower has been defeated and sent home crying, what ambition will seem beyond the grasp of the radical leaders? Remember that Hitler’s rise to power, and all the disasters that followed, was fueled by his restoration of simple pride to the humiliated German people. How powerful will the Middle East’s new radical leaders be after they can claim victory over the United States?
And before you answer, consider that Arab culture is perhaps the world’s best major example of an honor/shame culture. Shame is feared more than death. Honor is loved more than life. The population will flock overnight to those that offer such honor, and whose victory seems to erase so much shame.
Outside the Arab and Muslim Worlds, our enemies in Russia, in Asia, in Latin America, in Africa and elsewhere will see the example of our defeat and be moved into new ways of thinking about the wisdom of conflict with America. We are 300 million strong, and yet we consider surrender after only 3000 dead spread over years. Why not fight us? Anyone can kill a couple of Americans a day, if that is all it takes to break us.
Look for humiliations like the Iran hostage “crisis” of the 1970’s to pop up wherever a piss-ant dictator needs an ego boost. Everyone is a tough guy when you’re down. Many little wars and rescues, interventions and treaty obligations will begin to appear. Defeat encourages attack. Withdrawal encourages chase. “Bring the troops home” now, and you will save a few in the short term. And then they will be sent back out again — all over the world — without their aura of competence and power to help protect them.
That is the worst case. What we have now is just a protracted guerilla war, one that cannot go on forever, because no war ever does. If you think the war is hard on you, since you have to hear about two or three American deaths on the news each night, imagine what it is like for the insurgents and their host population. They die in far larger numbers than we do, their families suffer deprivation, they are increasingly hounded by Iraqi death squads bent on block punishment, and they see their most hated enemy (Iran, not us) growing stronger, while their Al Qaeda “allies” try to brainwash their children and take over their communities.
On the other side, the Shiite population suffers terror attacks daily, cannot exploit their oilfields, and risks global dishonor if they fail to control the country. This war is thus an untenable long-term situation. It will end. War is inherently unstable and shakes out to a settlement when one side prevails or both sides have had enough. When the war ends in this natural and inevitable way, we win. No, the peace will not be final; there will be another war five or 20 years from now. But that will be a different war. Perhaps we can sit that one out after we go home intact and undefeated at the end of this present war.
But we would do well to slog this war through. The consequences of defeat are too great for anyone who loves America — Republican, Democrat, or Independent — to allow that to happen. The troops in Iraq are not fighting for the ungrateful Iraqis as claimed by the demoralizers. They are fighting for America. They are fighting to avoid the worst-case scenario: defeat and its disastrous aftermath.
The American people booted Republicans from control of Congress because of dissatisfaction with the war. Now the Democrats, rather than coming up with a better plan for victory, seem to have settled on a plan to accelerate defeat — through timetables for withdrawal and de-funding of the troops in the field. Defeat in Iraq will destroy the GOP, it’s true. But it will also damage America so severely that it will consume the Democrats too, for leading the retreat. The electorate will wish a pox on both houses. Surrender is no plan for avoiding defeat.
We must win. The only thing worse than a long war is a lost war.