Supporters of the War Misunderstand the Game


Supporters of the war desperately try to come up with arguments to justify their position even though they have been wrong every step of the way. Michael Goldfarb argues in The Weekly Standard that the Democratic leaders are moving the goal posts on Iraq. The problem is not that Democrats are moving the goal posts but that supporters of the war don’t even understand what game we are playing. The video Goldfarb posts (above) contradicts his own argument.

Goldfarb looks purely at military progress during the surge. The surge has included failures and limited successes. Before the surge I predicted that there could be a short term improvement in the military situation. There’s no moving of goal posts here.

The problem is that short term military gains do not change the overall situation. Military progress alone does not help if there is no progress politically. The real battle is over hearts and minds, and we are no closer to winning. Evidence for military progress is limited, and there is no evidence that the small improvements seen will persist without an indefinite American military presence. Meanwhile the limited gains where American forces have been increased are offset in other areas, such as in Basra where conditions deteriorate as the British leave.

To the limited degree that the surge has shown success, such success can only be maintained with an indefinite American occupation, which is not a satisfactory strategy. Continued American occupation with no prospect of ultimate success is wasteful of American lives and money, and ultimately works to the advantage of groups such as al Qaeda and of Iran as opposed to furthering American national security interests.

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