George W. Bush and the Republican Party lost the war in Iraq. Digby has the powerful words to support this premise... - fc
Winning and losing
Ezra weighs in on the politics of withdrawal and apologizes for being craven for even discussing it. I can understand why he felt he had to say that because a lot of people object to viewing this serious issue from a political standpoint. But I feel that politics are the only
issue as far as Democrats are concerned. We haven't even the smallest bit of institutional power to affect any change in the president's Iraq policy.
This confusion continues to be a central problem for Democrats. We need to accept that we are not the governing party. If we think we are going to affect policy from our position as the irrelevant "other" party, we are sorely mistaken. Our elected officials aren't even invited to routine meetings on legislative issues; we will not be consulted on Iraq. This is an internal Republican party policy debate that they would love to cast as a partisan fight. I can see no reason why we should accomodate them by assuming responsibility for something over which we have absolutely no say and no control.
It's clear that Democrats are much, much better at actual governance than Republicans who seem stymied, confused and in over their heads. Their political agenda is good for getting (barely) elected but it has proven to be completely inadequate to actually run the country. So I'm not criticising the Democratic love of wonkish planning and analysis. It's exactly what the country will need when we again become the governing party and have to clean up this gargantuan mess the Republicans have made of things. But people don't vote for plans even though they insist to pollsters and focus groups that they do. They vote for (or against) leaders and visions.
In order to change the direction of this country we have to prioritize and our first priority and only responsibility is to get more Democrats elected to office so that we can change the balance of power. That's it. Everything we do must be in service of that goal.
I do not believe there is anything the national Democrats can do to change this policy. We have to change the government. Therefore, I think it's in their best interests to begin to define what winning and losing means before the Republicans do. In an e-mail exchange on this subject, reader Charles Saeger suggested:
"We cannot win the war in Iraq and staying could rouse terrorist sentiment against us"
"The Republicans lost the war in Iraq and our continued presence is rousing terrorist sentiment against us."
I happen to think this has the benefit of being true. The Bush administration lost the war before it began because it was unwinnable as a purely American/British venture. He didn't mishandle it. He didn't misjudge. He lost it.
I know it's unpalatable to use their frame, but I think it's pretty ingrained in the American psyche. We are the ultimate "win-lose" culture. Because of that I believe it is in our political interest and the country's security interests to frame this as a Republican loss. Terrorism is still a threat. Nukes in the hands of bad actors are a very, very serious threat. We are economically and militarily weakened by Bush's response to 9/11.
The Republicans lost Iraq. Like Lincoln when he replaced McClellan, the voters of the United States need to replace the Republicans if we want to "win" the war on Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.
If we can convince the country of that then we are in a good position to get them to listen to our alternative plans for withdrawal as a tactical retreat in the bigger war on terrorism. Framing it as an American loss, ("our" loss) however, will set the stage for another 30 years of "liberals wouldn't let us win it" bullshit. It's time to put that nonsense to bed. The GOP has proven in real time, right before our eyes, that they want to start wars but they don't have a fucking clue how to win them. That needs to be reiterated over and over again to the American public. If it sinks in we might just be able to find our way out of this ridiculous national security paradigm we've been in ever since the wingnuts asked "who lost China" back in 48. It created Vietnam and it created Iraq. Enough.
Who lost Iraq? George W. Bush and the Republican party.
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