"We Cannot Lose"
(these are two panels that go together- I can't seem to get them next to each other *sigh*)
The fallout over the Baker report on Iraq (ok, the Iraq Study Group, but it's still Baker's baby) is still sprinkling down, slowed a bit by the usual holiday distractions. It seems that Bush has decided to cherrypick from the report in a father interesting way- he will "consider" certain aspects only to eventually refuse them.
Prevailing winds from the Right fear the underlying message of the report is that we should just get out while the going is good, hence the we should not lose, etc. message.
But, as Tariq Ali and others have already observed, we have "lost," depending on what your definition of lost is. If the definition of the whole exercise was to foster a democracy in a Middle Eastern country- then, we lost from the get go. It was a poorly conceived exercise drafted by people drunk on hubris and short on actual information. They relied on Chalabi and his hangers on, business, not democracy, was the secret watchword, and the kingmakers have had fun running their strawmen around on the board.
We have lost because our military has become a crass, crude, and sometimes predatory occupying force. So desperate is the military for bodies that members of the Arayan brotherhood are reported to have infiltrated the ranks for small arms training. At Pendleton, we will soon be watching the ultimate degradation of the honorable American soldier image as the details of the Haditha massacre are discussed and the defendents turn state's evidence in one last desperate bid to save their skins, appointing one person to twist in the wind for a group crime. The bad apple theory is alive and well, which is more than one can say for the 25+ people (civilians, btw) slaughtered in Haditha.
But, "we" (a very loose usage of) haven't "lost" if the idea is to make American society a slowly crumbling edifice to be rebuilt along neoCon lines in a bastardized image of Reagan's shining City on the Hill. It will soon be morning in Reagan's America with the hummer in the driveway, Fox news chortling in the background.
We haven't "lost" if the idea is to really destabilize the Middle East, dash around on "diplomatic missions" and gather the spoils unto ourselves. The only problem is, the place is not fully cooperating. Rants like Thomas Friedman's last peevish list don't help, and come the day after Christmas, I'm pretty sure the Middle East is a f-g mess rhetoric will rachet up.
So, "losing" is relative, in that sense.
Me, personally, I think we lost and lost it shortly after the invasion. I don't know why it took so much money and so much time to state the obvious.