Sure! On the 1st of Never. The two wars being Iraq II and Afghanistan, begun under Bush, finished, more or less, with Obama, but both thoroughly bipartisan affairs.
Because if we’d won either war, you’d be seeing victory parades. And you’d be seeing politicians at the head of the parades. Also too monuments. Do you see any? No. So, no victory. WaPo’s Dana Milbank writes:
Gen. Harold Greene’s funeral is a fitting coda to a dozen years of war
Oh. A “fitting coda.” Oddly, or not, although Milbank mentions the 33-car press motorcade, he doesn’t name any of the dignitaries who must have been in attendance; Greene was, in death, like defeat is, an orphan.
Because of his high rank, there was great pageantry: the riderless horse with boots backward in the stirrups; the Army chief-of-staff presenting the flags; the pounding, 13-cannon salute.
The fanfare was a fitting coda to a dozen years of war. President George W. Bush often said there would be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship. Now the wars are over, for better or worse – and the general’s burial was .
The Iraq war is history, at least for U.S. ground troops, and soon Afghanistan will be, too. Greene’s death captures well the end:
What’s “ambiguous” about it? We’re leaving $7 billion worth of material in Afghanistan, and if the Afghan army collapses the way the Iraq army did, we’re going to end up bombing whatever we left in working order. Does that sound like victory to you?
He was the No. 2 general in charge of training Afghan forces to take over after the Americans’ imminent departure, and he was killed — , it seems — by one of the Afghans who was supposed to be on our side.
It was a closing act of an American pullout ordered somewhere between victory and defeat.
“Senseless” to whom? Not the
crazy brown person Afghani who gave his life in the assault, presumably.
Far be it from me to suggest that the Army, right now, is ineffective as a fighting force, or that Obama didn’t put “boots on the ground” in Syria because he couldn’t. (Yes, the American people are said, rightly, to be “war weary,” but since when did the American people have any influence in Washington, DC?) However, in last days of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, humor is everything in our decaying and sclerotic empire. Here are some headlines from the military’s The Onion, Duffle Blog:
Catch the drift?
In the Army, we’re clearly looking at a troubled institution: Recruiting standards have been lowered, suicides are much higher than the civilian rate, the officer corps is, often, abusive and corrupt, and perhaps issues with a relatively small volunteer force as such, beyond the family and health issues of multiple deployments (“I had come to accept, without question, my reality because of fear”), all leading to breakdowns in leadership and discipline.
Peter Beinert, of all people, writes:
When it comes to foreign policy … the key divide is no longer between Democrats and Republicans. It’s between the elites of both parties and their rank and file. When asked about arming Syria’s rebels, an Iran deal that allows some uranium enrichment, and whether America should do more or less in the world, both Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly take the more dovish view. On each question, the partisan divide is five percentage points or less.
The real gap emerges when you compare ordinary Americans to elites. According to Pew, for instance, rank-and-file Republicans are 34 percentage points more likely to want America to do less overseas. Rank-and-file Democrats are 31 points more likely to want America to do less. Members of the prestigious, bipartisan Council on Foreign Relations, by contrast, are 20 points more likely to say America should do more.
The political class, egged on by those who own or rent them (the title of Beinert’s article is “How Money Warps U.S. Foreign Policy”) yearns for war, but must work — frustratingly for them — through proxies and straws (or “thoughts and prayers,” as Duffel Blog puts it) because they themselves blunted the edge of their favored instrument with two defeats. At the same time, having dissipated our soft power with Abu Ghraib, torture, drones, and so forth, they and we are about to learn what it means to live in a world of purely hard power. No doubt there are many who will be happy to teach us.
 Milbank tactfully avoids the question of who Bush expected to be the victor on that battleship deck.
 And this:
… ordered somewhere between victory and defeat…
1. Note lack of agency. Who did the ordering? Obama, presumably, as Commander-in-Chief.
2. Note vague context. Is it time? Does “somewhere between victory and defeat” mean that had we stayed in, victory was achievable? (In other words, Obama jumped off the timeline that leads to inevitable American victory.) Is it outcome? Does “somewhere between victory and defeat” mean an outcome that isn’t victory or defeat? (In other words, this was the best Obama’s “surge” could do, even for a “smart war.”)
Clue stick, Dana: It’s defeat, and the political class knows it. Ground war, no victory parade, no politician claiming credit: That’s defeat. As Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said:
Iraq “blew it” by choosing not to sign a Status of Forces Agreement that would have kept US troops in the country longer, and Afghanistan is unlikely to make the same mistake, he added [or maybe not].
Now, when it comes to Iraq, US troops are unlikely to have any desire to return to the country, he added.
“I mean, we can only give so much. And nobody – no one in uniform – wants to say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m ready to go back.’ No way.”