Monday, November 21, 2005

Define Victory

How do we get out of Iraq? I think this is what Dems need to focus on. "Cut and run" is now part of the lexicon just as is "up or down vote." So just saying the US should withdraw is not reason enough. The real question is how to we achieve a goal in the near term that allows up to withdraw?

Call them what you will: milestones, benchmarks, timetables, Iraqi government capabilities. It doesn't matter. How do we get out of there in an orderly fashion in a way we can claim some level of success and save face. We need to save face. I know this sounds really stupid and juvenile. But we need to save face for reasons both political, psychological, and for our own security.

Sure this may be Bush's war, but someone in our country - be it Dem or Republican - is going to have to pick up the pieces for all our sakes and that of the world. What defines "victory" in such a way that the US can withdraw, not leave Iraq in complete turmoil, and not create a terrorist state, is something that requires the US to save face, declare victory no matter how hollow, and go home.

As Democrats and opponents of the war, the overwhelming need to hold people accountable for this mess and our desire to redeploy our troops needs to be separated. A blatant failure of astronomical proportions in Iraq may bring changes at home that hold negative political consequences for the Republican party, but it does none of us or our country any good for misplaced political retribution to take the form of a desire for such a failure in Iraq. Seeking immediate withdraw of troops to emphasize the failure of the Iraq policy is not only redundant in its emphasis of this fact, but hurts everyone from our troops to our security.

We need to present a cause, noble or dutiful, that our troops died for. We can't as a nation just say to the world, "oops Bush broke it." The Pottery Barn rule doesn't work on this scale. Bush may have broken it, but our troops died trying to fix it as ordered by the Commander in Chief. It's not their fault their supreme leader was an idiot. Iraq may have been a vast example of how not to wage a war, but America and the world needs to understand that going it alone as our troops often did without the planning, equipment, armor, and vision they needed to succeed is not their fault.

Defining what victory means, regardless whether or not it is victory in the normal sense, adds accountability to the blank check this war has and the unending powers the president has assumed. The Iraq war, and the war on terra need to be defined in scope. Without this, there is nothing but an ever escalating open ended contract. This makes little sense in business, let alone war.

We must get out of Iraq. To do so, we need to work toward some goal, some level of victory, some way to save face for the nation. This should not be confused with bailing out Bush and his Republican administrion. Providing a reason, a goal, a way to save face doesn't mean that we shouldn't hold those responsible accountable at the highest levels. Not at all. Instead it means that as a party, the Democrats must provide a positive plan, an achievable goal, a meaningful yardstick, a viable alternative that provides a reason to end the mistake Bush and the Republicans took us into.

If the Democrats provide a reasonable plan to end this mistake, the nation will take care of the mistakes holding power in Washington.