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Jason Holliston
Wednesday, May 19, 2004  
Another Must-Read Blog: The Belmont Club

I've been reading this blog for a while now, and it's sharp stuff. Very insightful commentary about the War on Terror. This post is especially good: News Coverage as a Weapon. It comments about the changing face of warfare over the page couple hundred years, and how these changes affect the wars we fight today.

Viewed in this context, the American "defeat" in Iraq projected by the press must be understood as being something wholly different from anything that has gone before. The 800 odd US military deaths suffered since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom a year ago are less than the number who died in the Slapton Sands D-Day training exercise in 1944. The campaign in Iraq has hardly scratched American strength, which has in fact grown more potent in operational terms over the intervening period. Nor has it materially affected the US manpower pool or slowed the American economy, which is actually growing several times faster than France, which is not militarily engaged. The defeat being advertised by the press is a wholly new phenomenon: one which leaves the vanquished army untouched and the victor devastated; the economy of the vanquished burgeoning and that of the victor in destitution; the territory of the loser unoccupied and that of the winner garrisoned. It is an inversion of all the traditional metrics of victory and defeat. That the assertion is not instantly ludicrous is an indication of the arrival of a new and potentially revolutionary form of political warfare.

He really hits the nail on the head here. The idea that we could lose the Iraq War, according to metrics applied to WWII and before, is impossible, because we've already won. We did so when President Bush was standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier declaring the end of major military operations. We had demolished Saddam's military capability, sent him into hiding, and secured most of the major cities. The war was over, just like on D-Day, when the war was over with Germany.

With the new metrics, however, we could still lose. We need to leave Iraq a functioning democracy, with it's infrastructure rebuilt, along with a government in place -- elected by the people and ruling with their consent -- that is friendly to the U.S. Anything short of that is a "loss". Apply those metrics to wars over a half-century ago. If we left Germany right after D-Day, a defeated, smoking rubble of a country, would anyone had said we "lost"? I don't think so -- that's pretty much how most wars ended before the end of WWII.

This is the reason why history lessons are so important for schools to teach. Looking at today's events through the lens of history gives you valuable perspective, allowing you to judge for yourself how good or bad things really are. I personally think things are going swimmingly in Iraq for the U.S.; when judged against history, and not judged against perfect dream scenarios.

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