Friday, June 30, 2006

The War is Over

You can do anything with a bayonet except sit on it.

— Talleyrand

The War is Over. We won.

Which war? The one in Iraq, of course. Remember "Mission Accomplished"? That's as good a point as any to declare the war "won". The Iraqi army had been completely smashed, Saddam Hussein was in hiding, and the US military controlled the entire country.

But aren't we still fighting? Well, yes, but we aren't fighting a war. We're conducting an occupation. Big difference.

Isn't it just a matter of semantics? Well, it's certainly a matter of semantics; I question the "just", as if semantics don't matter.

War is active. Fight battles, capture territory, force the enemy leaders to surrender. An occupation is passive. Keep order, prevent the old enemies from regrouping, try to return the occupied territory to a semblance of normalcy. The aim is to turn the place over to a "legitimate" local government.

An occupation is essentially an administrative matter. There's no "won" or "lost"; it's all a matter of definitions and degrees. Did you make your quarterlies? It's generally pretty miserable for people in the occupied territory. Battles are generally fought Somewhere Else; the occupation is here.

Right now, we have the most powerful army in the world, running around Iraq, waiting for Rommel to show up. He ain't gonna. Treating the situation in Iraq as a "war" leads to messes like Falluja. American soldiers are terrible as occupation or peacekeeping troops. Fighters, yes. Occupiers, no.

So if we pull the troops out of Iraq now, we're not "losing" anything. We're not "cutting and running", except to get out of the way of a low-intensity civil war with about a zillion different sides.

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