Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Friday | April 04, 2003

Defining Victory Down

According to the Washington Post, the same folks who brought us the War in Iraq are now trying to figure out when to declare Victory in Iraq:

'Rolling' Victory Key to U.S. Endgame
Controlling Territory, Halting Resistance Are Aims; Surrender Not Expected

The Bush administration has devised a strategy to declare victory in Iraq even if Saddam Hussein or key lieutenants remain at large and fighting continues in parts of the country, officials said yesterday.

The concept of a "rolling" victory contemplates a time -- not yet determined -- when U.S. forces control significant territory and have eliminated a critical mass of Iraqi resistance. U.S. military commanders would establish a base of operations, perhaps outside Baghdad, and assert that a new era has begun. Even then, tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers would remain to help maintain order and provide humanitarian assistance.

Of course, by that standard, the United States won the Vietnam War in, oh, what, about 1965? It even became a running joke: How do we get out of Vietnam? Declare victory and come home.

Now it looks like they may actually do it -- albeit without the "coming home" part -- even if it leaves Saddam hunkered down in Baghdad thumbing his nose at the Coalition. From the same Post story:

Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday that Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, would not need to be under U.S. control for the administration to establish an interim Iraqi administration. When Baghdad is isolated from the rest of the country, he said, the city is "almost irrelevant."

"Whatever remnants are left would not be in charge of anything except their own defense," Myers told reporters, "and it would be fairly small compared to the rest of the country and what's happening."

Hmmm . . . "fairly small"? According to the CIA World Factbook, the total population of Iraq is about 24 million and change. I've had a harder time getting a hard number for the population of Baghdad -- the estimates I've seen range as high as 10 million and as low as 4 million. Spilt the difference and call it 7 million.

So almost a third of the entire country, and maybe more, lives in the city that Gen. Myers calls "irrelevant." It is also, of course, the ancient capital not just of Iraq but of the Abbasid Caliphate, the zenith of Arab power and influence in the world.

Sounds like somebody really doesn't want to have to fight their way into downtown Baghdad. I certainly can't blame Gen. Myers for that, but does he really think it's plausible to claim victory without it?

I mean even in Vietnam, we controlled Saigon . . . well, that is, until the choppers came and plucked the last of our guys off the roof of the US embassy. We may not have declared victory, but we did come home.

But I guess that's not what Gen. Myers has in mind.


Posted April 04, 2003 06:12 PM | Comments (39)


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