... is that all too often, they back down when they're right. This means you, Howard Dean.
Dean is quoted as saying the following, during a radio interview, with respect to the war on Iraq: "The idea that we're going to win this war is an ideal that unfortunately is just plain wrong."
Bingo. Exactly. You don't have to like the fact that "we" (the government of the United States) aren't going to win in Iraq. But whether you like it or not, it will remain a fact. It ain't gonna happen (I'll explain why for the nth time in a moment, but first, some other stuff). Deal with it.
Which is exactly what Dean should have said when Republicans started tearing into him for talking straight. Instead, he backed down, threw out the old "a little out of context" claim, and is now attempting to "clarify" that which was utterly clear -- and utterly true.
C'mon, Howard. You've had the balls to tell the truth in the past ... more so than a lot of politicians of all parties. If you've got the balls to tell the truth on such a hardcore issue, you should have the balls to stand behind your statement when the Save Us From Our Own Idiocy Party throws a temper tantrum about it. On the war, the Democratic Party -- and its chairman -- need to tell people what they need to know instead of trying to figure out what they want to hear. Please -- get back out there and mix it up. Tell the truth about the war. The weasels can only nip at your heels from behind you, and they will never, ever get behind you unless you run.
Now, to that other subject matter: Why the US will not and cannot win the war on Iraq, and why it has, in fact, already lost that war.
Victory in war is a function of the objectives of the war. If you accomplish the objectives, you can make a plausible claim to victory. If you don't, you can't. It's just that simple. What were the stated objectives of the war on Iraq prior to the actual commencement of the war (dropping objectives after that point doesn't change the definition of victory -- that's simply an acknowledgement of defeat)? There were three of them:
1) To remove Saddam Hussein and the Ba'athist regime from power.
2) To locate and secure or destroy alleged stockpiles of "weapons of mass destruction."
3) To eliminate Iraq as a threat to its regional neighbor states and to the US (which, while largely depicted as a function of objective #1, is also a separable objective -- unless you'd have considered having Uday or Qusay form the new "Arab Non-Ba'ath Non-Socialist Party" and just replace Saddam as president a "victory").
4) To turn Iraq into a western-style democracy.
Objective one was mostly met early on. I say "mostly" because significant portions of the old regime -- the Mukhabarat, for example -- ended up being retained, the US initially replaced Saddam with one of his former thugs, there are almost certainly "former" Ba'athists still in key positions of power, and the Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party is almost certainly still active and influential in Iraq as an insurgent opposition party (which it has been before and proved reasonably competent at being).
Objective two was not met. We can argue over why it wasn't met (I thought the WMD was there too, guys -- but I'm not going to make up fairy tales about a "convoy to Syria" to cover up my mystification as to why it wasn't found), but it hasn't. Period. It seems likely that objective two will never be met (even if the "convoy to Syria" turns out to be real, the weapons have probably been dispersed by now and any chance of capturing them en bloc is gone).
Objective three has been temporarily and provisionally met, because Iraq is too wrapped up in its own turmoil to present much of a threat to anyone outside its borders -- but whether it can be met on a permanent basis is dependent upon objective four.
Objective four has not been met, and it won't be met. Democracy? Just barely possible. But if so, it will not be democracy western-style. It will be democracy Iranian-style in the south, and democracy "core of a greater Kurdistan"-style in the north, and in case you haven't noticed, that isn't quite what Bush & Co. had in mind.
If you don't achieve your objectives, you haven't won the war. If you can't achieve your objectives, you can't win the war. And the US has not achieved and cannot achieve its objectives. Therefore the US has not won and cannot win the war. Any other conclusion is not just plain wrong, but plain dumb. The only thing thing militating against the complete and permanent collapse of the Republican Party right now is that some Democrats were wrong going into the war, and that some Democrats don't have the stones to lay it out like Howard Dean did, or to back it up like he appears to not be doing.
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