Often, while posting at my favorite hangout for intellectual delinquents, Think Progress, I encounter some "wit" from the conservative side (or, as I prefer to think of it, the Dark Side) who likes to throw out "Well, Mr. Liberal, what would YOU do to win the war in Iraq?" This question has no answer in today's debating context, because a discussion of Iraq has to start with a certain foundation of facts. And the Dark Side, as we who have attempted to engage them in debate know, does not use facts in their arguments. And that is a fact.
To begin with, the Dark Side must define what they mean by "win in Iraq". What does "winning" mean? It's a fair question, but it's hard to get a definitive answer on that when you ask them. Because their concept of "winning" is always changing. At first it was to depose Saddam, install a democratically-elected government, and get out with the area stabilized because Iraq would be ruled by the people and not some tyrant. That may not be it exactly (either by the official, public account or the real, secret account), but that's the gist of what the idea of "winning" was when we started.
Then Saddam was caught, tried, convicted by a rigged jury system (he had no chance of winning), and executed. Meanwhile, during that time, a democratically-elected government was put in place and it has, to this date, struggled to gain any respect or actual ability to effectively govern. So why are we still there? Well, there's still too much "instability", and now you've got al Qaeda getting a foothold in Iraq. And because al Qaeda is one of our "enemies" in the "War on Terror", we have to stay there and "defeat them". So, the mission has changed, hasn't it? My question is, "Says who?" But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
What the Dark Side refuses to ackowledge is that they have been wrong about virtually everything regarding the invasion of Iraq right from the beginning. That is a fact. Not only were they wrong, but the people who managed to convince the country that invading Iraq was necessary were lying about the reasons. That is also a fact. That's not just Bush-hating rhetoric from an anti-War veteran of the Air Force, and it's not just my opinion. They lied, and if they want to disprove that, then they should release every piece of information they had (including, and particularly, where it came from). After all, aren't they the kind of people who like to say, "If you've done nothing wrong, then you've got nothing to worry about"? But they won't do that, because the evidence would prove that the things they said were certainly true were not only highly in dispute then, they were flat out wrong! And when the proof they claimed would be found never was, they started changing what they claimed Saddam had. ("Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs", instead of actual weapons.) Aluminum tubes that could only be used for "one thing", that is, once you mill off an anodized coating put there for the tube's "original purpose". The things they told us that they knew to be untrue when they said them would fill volumes of books, and they do, and they're out there.
The point is, they have been wrong about everything, and now they want us to accept the framing of the issue at hand. They insist that there is a "Global War on Terror" (when they're not insisting that there isn't) and that we are fighting the terrorists in Iraq. Well I don't see it that way. The way I see it is that Presidents George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have deliberately unleashed our military on an ill-conceived, ill-thought-out "mission" to achieve an objective that they haven't been honest about from the beginning, including the admission that this was a guy who tried to kill Bush's "daddy." Why should they have any say at all in this discussion, if they won't admit the basic facts about the reasons we are there in the first palce? We are there because they fucked up and took on more than they could handle, and they expect us to accept that any solution to what's going on in Iraq must begin with the framework in which they launched it. No it does not. Any solution to the ongoing occupation in Iraq by our forces must begin with an admission of culpability about everything, including the lies, and the acceptance of the fact that if they're not going to operate within a framework of reality and not ideology (that everyone wants Democracy, for one), then they are unfit to be a part of the solution.