Written by Dale Suderman Tuesday, 06 February 2007 18:00The United States has lost the war in Iraq. Team USA looked good in the first quarter with a dramatic invasion leading to the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein. But since then it has not won a single round.
We have been unable to establish a central government in Iraq, let alone, a "democracy." The Iraqi army exists primarily as a collection of warlords, death squads and regional factions.
(We are afraid to equip them further because we know they will use the weapons against other Iraqis.)
The American goal of stabilizing the Middle East flies in the face of the facts of escalating instability throughout the region. It is not unreasonable to predict that Iraq will join Yugoslavia as a country that once existed-but only because a tyrant kept local forces in check.
Both political parties are disingenuous when they say: "The Iraqi military and government must now step up to the plate in this final hour." They seem to believe that after 800 years of historical animosity, the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds forced into a common country by European colonialists will have a magical change of mind and walk down the streets of Baghdad singing, "Kumbayah, my Lord, Kumbayah."
"Victory has a hundred fathers but defeat is an orphan," said President Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs debacle in 1962.
The Iraq debacle is worse off than an orphan. If a paternity suit were filed to find the father of this war, a great many men would look sheepishly at their shoes and mumble awkward excuses like, "Well it seemed like a good idea at the time."
In contrast, President Bush sounds like a shrill junior high coach giving a locker room pep talk, "We cannot afford to lose this war," even as he suspects the game is over.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton scolds the president and insists he must clean up the Iraq mess before she takes office.
Neither option seems likely.
Most Americans agree that God, motherhood and apple pie are good. About the same percentage of Americans agree the war in Iraq is bad.
Because of the growing American consensus about the war, there have been few anti-war marches and protests. Imagine a march with Sen. Brownback from Kansas and Sen. Boxer from California marching hand in hand, followed by Sen. Hagel from Nebraska and Sen. Kennedy from Massachusetts.
Cadres of CIA analysts, generals and traditional pacifists follow them.
They are all singing the same song: "The war is a disaster." They disagree on the exit strategy and are still afraid to sing the final verse, "The war is lost."
Everybody marches. There is nobody left to be an audience.
However valiantly we attempt to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, the facts in Iraq are stubborn. The country disintegrates into ever more warring factions, its middle class has mostly left the country, American casualties mount.
A temporary surge of U.S. involvement might save face for America and temporarily create enough of a lull that we can exit, stage left. But at some point, there will be one final American casualty for a failed policy.
Seeing war and sports together-a game with winners and losers-has a long history. But what is unique about Iraq is that while the United States has lost-by failing to achieve objectives-the winner is not evident.
The Middle East is not a game of checkers. It is far more complex than a game of chess. It may be decades before anything resembling a "winner" emerges in the area-or if this will even happen in our lifetimes.
Americans have celebrated Super Bowl Sunday-the High Holy Day of sports. But the Colts' victory over the Bears was a time of conviviality and celebration and of no ultimate consequence.
Iraq was a war with losers and the consequences of that will haunt the world for decades.
You can contact the writer at Suderman@aol.com