This last week, Obama declared an end to the “War in Iraq”.
In the true political form of “perception is reality” he declared a win by withdrawing troops, and some amorphous set of objectives obtained regardless of there being no recent change in the fundamental condition of that nation or ours.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but back in the old days, a war was between nations and once a nation was conquered, it was over. Continued civil unrest or the presence of terrorists is irrelevant. The occupation of Japan and Germany, for example, was not part of the war; it occurred AFTER the war. But apparently by today’s standards, WWII hasn’t ended yet, since we still have a military presence. If the Buddhists and Shinto priests had a blood feud or Chuck-chi swam to Honshu to shoot at US soldiers, that still would not be written in the history books as some never-ending world war.
The idiocy of this perspective is one thing; the true rage I feel over it is the idiocy of the entire American public for accepting it.
The War in Iraq ended in 2003, if you can call it a war at all.
The conflict, definable as war in only the most basic sense, was an unimpeded invasion that took only long enough for a casual drive of slow armored vehicles to Baghdad. There was no prolonged conflict of armies with shifting fronts. The military operations in Iraq ended in 2003, weeks after they started. If Germany had stopped at Poland and no one else stepped up to the plate, the invasion would not have been called “The Polish-German War of 1939” and the Warsaw Uprising would have been a non-war event. If it lasted long enough for even a single, significant counter-offensive, maybe we could talk. The [[Six-Day War]]? Another event described as war almost metaphorically, simply because it was military in nature. Like Iraq, the other side didn’t even make a showing. We may as well call the coin toss at the Superbowl a sporting event.
But even if you choose to define the invasion as a war, you can call everything after that as occupation, policing, whatever you want. But it was not war, because the war was over. What is going on since is not even a civil war with us taking sides (which would be against international law, by the way). Insurgents are not even rebel factions vying for power. They are tantamount to criminals with almost random political or ideological motives. Their actions are not military even as irregulars since their actions are not specifically tactical in any way. And other than centering on intra-ethnic violence, the only reason our military personnel are being shot at is because they are there.
Few of us have figured out the observable, historic truth that terrorism follows our military presence, not the other way around. If we want to see an end to such a “war”, all we have to do is simply stop being there militarily. This is perhaps the only shred of truth in Obama’s “victory”. But if it was a real war, we would more accurately call it a “defeat”, since the insurgents reached THEIR central, measurable objective of having us leave.
Either way, wars end when they are unambiguously won, and by this standard, what could be won already had been, in 2003, with the unambiguous elimination of the previous government. Heck, an entirely new government was established, and Hussein hanged by it years ago. What happened all these years since has no victory condition, any more than a purely metaphorical “war on crime” or “war on drugs” could end in some fantasy world where such things no longer exist thanks to our men in blue.
Yes, our military still did their duty, and deserve their medals. Being regularly shot at a world away from their families deserves our respect, and a hurried return home. It doesn’t even matter if it was a political ploy to salvage an unlikely re-electable approval rating.
But let’s be honest. Their service and sacrifice was noble, but in ways very different from the purposes and conditions of real war. And it was perhaps even more difficult because of the lie that it was war. Is this semantics? We’ve gone to war for less.