How Yon’s “hopeful” message on Iraq wins us with honest trifles, to betray us in deepest consequence
Michael Yon, author of Moment of Truth in Iraq, is, I’m sure, an honest, patriotic, and courageous fellow. He is, nevertheless, to the neocons what a shot of pure heroin is to an addict. Everything about the Iraq war over the last five years that has charged them up and given them the crazed, blissful assurance that this is the greatest thing America has ever done and therefore we must continue doing it at all costs—that’s what Michael Yon feeds them, and through them, the rest of us. I haven’t read his book, but I just read a long interview he gave to Kathryn Jean Lopez at NRO. What he talks about is the greatness of our soldiers and Marines, their preternatural skill at killing terrorists, their love of killing terrorists, their kindness and protectiveness to Iraqi civilians, their love for children and dogs, their skill at building schools, their devotion to building and training an Iraqi military, the wonderful things they’re doing in Iraq, winning the confidence and trust of the locals …
Wait. Haven’t we heard this all before? Yep. We’ve been hearing it from the start. What then is different now? What is different is the surge and the Sunni switch away from al Qaeda. Yon admits the U.S. made terrible mistakes in 2004 and 2005. But now under Gen. Petraeus everything is going swimmingly. So what Yon is doing is bringing back the familiar, delusional, patriotic song of the U.S. in Iraq—“Our guys are doing such a great job there, the media never reports on all they’re achieving,” which is true, but is also meaningless so long as we don’t have a strategy to win in Iraq. Yon is bringing back that song—plus the surge. And the surge, as I’ve shown over and over, is not leading to victory, it is staving off defeat, it is stabilizing a terrible situation that will remain stable only so long as we remain in Iraq. So, once more with feeling: “Our soldiers are the greatest, the left never gives them credit, we’re winning, the left wants to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.” Conservatism redefined as perpetual cheerleading.
Hence the long subtitle of Yon’s book: How a New ‘Greatest Generation’ of American Soldiers is Turning Defeat and Disaster into Victory and Hope. Victory and Hope? But isn’t the opposite pair of “defeat and disaster” “victory and success,” not “victory and hope”? Yon seems to be saying that first we achieve victory, and that results in hope. Meaning that the ultimate end of our endeavors in Iraq is not success, but hope.
If the maintenance of “hope” is the end of our policy, the policy can never be proved a failure, can it? At least not so long as its promoters keep hope alive. That’s the horse they’ve been mainlining for the last five years. And that’s why Michael Yon’s message, no matter how sincerely it is intended, feeds everything that is most delusional and destructive in them.
It has to be “hope,” not “success,” because, as I’ve pointed out so many times, there is no success aimed at under the Bush and now the McCain policy. Consider what Yon tells Lopez:
But most of all I began to see the fruits. I saw it working, the Iraqi people beginning to align with us and for themselves. I saw it in big “kinetic” battles where we took a fraction of the casualties we expected because the citizens told us where almost every terrorist ambush and booby trap was hidden. And I saw it in neighborhoods in which the American military had become the most respected institution in Iraq, and it was our soldiers whom the people turned to for protection but also for justice….So, the U.S. military is now the most respected institution in Iraq. It is, Yon crows, our soldiers whom the people turned to for protection but also for justice. What does this mean? It means that Iraq depends on our forces. It means that our forces are the guarantor of their security and justice. It means that our forces are their real government. So the “success” we’ve achieved is our “success” in making ourselves indispensable to the non-functioning Iraqis. Our great accomplishment, about which we keep singing that song, consists in creating a situation in which we can never leave.
Every time a Bush supporter says we have to stay in Iraq in order to “win,” he is either lying or delusional. The Bush McCain policy means staying in Iraq forever, or at least until that day when the Iraqis overcome their mutual divisions and sign on to the same universal democratic principles and so become capable of living in peace under a single state. Which means that we will be there—forever.
In the same way, we must keep letting Muslim immigrants into America and keep trying to “assimilate” them, or rather we must keep talking about assimilating them—forever, even as they keep spreading sharia among us.
These “forevers” are the product of our liberal, neoconservative creed, which gives us two absolute commands: that we can and we must make other people become like us: and that we must never, ever look at the reality that certain other people are irreduceably different from us.
The only way we can break the “forever” spell is by rejecting these false liberal beliefs, and the people who have imposed them on our whole society. Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
Mark Jaws writes:
As a retired intelligence officer who currently works on a counterterrorist research and development project, I have frequent contact with military personnel who have served in Iraq. In fact, about one quarter of my division’s work force has been “deployed to the sandbox.” To a man and to a woman, they stand behind the mission there, whatever that is. My new colleague, for example, a former airborne engineer officer, came back from Iraq two years ago with a portion of his spine gone as a result of an IED. He is 36 years old, a newly-wed, yet keeps a picture on his desk not of his wife, but of the Iraqi interpreter with whom he worked for over eight months, and who ultimately paid for his life for having collaborated with the Americans.LA replies:
I agree absolutely with what Mr. Jaws. just said about the personal bonds Americans form with Iraqis, and how this becomes a major factor in our continued ruinous involvement there.
The primary, but unspoken, purpose of the “war” and occupation of Iraq is to keep permanent bases and strong military forces in the Persian Gulf to protect oil supplies and shipments. The impossible and endless goal of a peaceful stable Iraq will continue to justify and maintain a long term US military presenceLA replies:
If there had been no 9/11 attack, there would have been no radical re-thinking by the U.S. government of its previous “no nation building” strategy in order to figure out what to do about the terrorist threat, and there would not have been the primary justification for the invasion of Iraq, which was to prevent WMDs from being transferred to non-state terrorist groups. Even with that justification, it took a whole year of bitter debate and fantastically complicated and damaging international politics to launch the war. Without that justification, it’s simply inconceivable that we would have invaded Iraq. Therefore, without the 9/11 attack, the planting of U.S. forces in Iraq, which you say was for the primary purpose of protecting oil supplies and shipments, would not have happened. If the planting of U.S. forces in Iraq for the purpose of protecting oil was a primary motive independent of other concerns, it would have been done somehow. It would not have been dependent on the chance event of the 9/11 attack. Therefore the reason for the invasion of Iraq was as the adminsitraton said all along: to destroy WMDs, and to use Iraq as a model for democracy that would “drain the swamps” of Mideast terrorism.J. replies:
Do you really believe Bush and his team really believed their own phony trumped up excuses for the war?. For some reason other than WMDs and terrorism, his desire, obsession, and plans to invade Iraq were there from the beginning before claims of WMDs and before 9/11, not as a result of it. Easy to dismiss as “conspiracy theory” but there are many indications, or at the very least, a possibility they knew about 9/11 and intentionally failed prevent it to justify the war. Certainly there was clear motive and certainly Bush’s career benefited the most from 9/11. After the Saudis shut our bases,there was need for new permanent bases in the region and that was or has become the primary reason to prolong this failed and hopeless occupation indefinitely.LA replies:
Your e-mail is prime evidence of why there was no real debate about the invasion and occupation of Iraq, either before the invasion, or in the five years since. If the anti-war left (and anti-war right) had offered rational arguments against the war, that would have forced the adminstration and its supporters to reply to those rational arguments and there would have been a real national debate, and the flaws in the policy would have come more into focus. Instead the war opponents charged that the whole thing was a lie and a conspiracy, which forced the administration and its supporters to respond to the charges that the whole thing was a lie and a conspiracy. The debate thus circled around whether the whole thing was a lie and a conspiracy, rather than around the pros and cons of this invasion. In the absence of rational opposition, there was nothing to stop the fatally flawed policy from moving forward. In my view, the war opponents, who through their incessant attacks on the president’s motives killed rational debate on the war, are as responsible for the Iraq disaster as the president himself.Mark J. writes:
Mark Jaws wrote: “Another reason to look at the silver lining an Obama presidency would bring. At least, to the extent possible, he will extract us from this no-win situation.”
Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 23, 2008 12:36 PM | Send