Why is it so hard for our leaders and the media to figure this out:
We can play the Orwellian game of semantics and say we are not winning, we are not losing, and in a classic sense this is true. This is an ugly stalemate with escalating carnage and in that sick sense we are neither winning nor losing. This is true.
But, ask anyone in Iraq: "Are you better off then you were four years ago because of this war?"
The only people who have gained are the foreign terrorists who entered Iraq after we invaded, everyone else has lost, and the way to defeat the terrorists, is to end the war.
In real life terms:
The U.S. is losing the war. The Sunnis are losing the war. The Shi'ites are losing the war. The people of Iraq are losing the war. The civilians who get slaughtered are losing the war. This is a war in which everyone is losing, yet everyone confinues.
It is insane.
Winning or losing, who is better off for because of this war? The insurgents? We are killing more of them, then they recruit more, then we kill more of them. The Amercians? Ask our troops whether they we look forward to their second, third, fourth tour of duty and ask our people whether we are proud of this war and happy to pay what will be more than a trillion dollars for the privilege of waging it.
Sure, using the linguistics of lies, using the metaphors of madness, it is true we are in a stalemate. We are not winning, we are not losing, we can keep not winning and not losing until everyone is dead. What will we call it then?
It is insane.
Everyone in Washington says, well, there are no ideas on Iraq.
Maybe true, but here is an old idea that George W. Bush has never even tried and none of the experts and pundits and poobahs on the cable freak shows even discuss:
Why doesn't the United States go to the people of Iraq in the battle of ideas, with the powerful support of the American people, with the strong support of America's allies, and stand with the overwhelming majority of the people of Iraq who do not want endless death, carnage, chaos and mass murder every day of their lives?
Why don't we champion a cease fire in Iraq, and make a major public announcement that the United States will be ready and willing to withdraw every combat troop as called for by the Baker Group, to withdraw every American soldier from every combat zone, to provide an international reconstruction program that would be carried out honestly and effectively, if the Iraqi factions reach a true national reconciliation and begin with a 60 day cease fire.
Yes, we should put in jail the bums who stole or defrauded the reconstruction money that the President's party so negligently organized and so incompetently allowed to wallow in the stench of corruption. But that does not mean we abandon the people of Iraq to endless lives of war, mass murder and chaos.
What is most poisonous is this: the American people just voted in large numbers for a dramatic change in policy towards Iraq, yet all we are debating today is whether our Republican President should escalate this fiasco further, and whether a Democratic Congress should support the esclation.
What President Kennedy understood was that our military might must also stand with our moral might, and that we must rally the good and decent people of the world to our cause, which should be the world's cause.
The way to end the madness in Iraq is to appeal to the basic decency of the people of Iraq, and offer them a better way, not only on the battlefield, but in their spirits, in their lives and for their children.
The ignorance, arrogance, incompetence and extremism of those who began this war is proven by this: not once in the history of this war, have they championed the cause of ending it, even when the terms of such an ending would accomplish our most important national security goal.
These people view war as victory, and left to their own devices, would define victory any way they can, even if they cannot identify the enemy, even if everyone winds up dead, even if 80% of the nation they invade in the name of democracy, wants us out.
There is more than one way, to win a victory: It can be won on the battlefield, and it is most interesting that those with the most experience on the battlefield are least enthusiastic about this war and opposed to escalating it now. Or it can be won with an appeal to the people in whose interest we purport to fight, in which case ending this war is the true victory and the only victory within reach at this hour.
Why has our President never even tried this path? He views diplomacy as defeat, when diplomacy can achieve true victory. He views negotiations as surrender, he does not even negotiate out of fear, he simply refuses to negotiate.
If the United States made a major, bipartisan, multinational offer for a cease fire, a better life for Iraqis, an end to the carnage, it would appeal to the overwhelming majority of the people of Iraq and have some chance to work.
It is not a new idea, it is one of the oldest ideas in history that every previous American leader has understood. It is a sign of how decadent and reactionary our debate has become, a sign of how fossilized and inept our national security establishment has become, that it is not even being discussed, while we debate whether it is smart to increase the carnage and call it victory.
The cease fire may work, it may not, but having never tried, it should be tried now and has a far better chance of success than anything the President has offered.
And because this Admistration is a little slow about figuring these things out, let me put it this way: Who wins if a cease plan leads to peace?
The overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people win because they wont get slaughtered by the hour, and won't go to funerals of their children, who are murdered on their way to school.
The overwhelming majority of Sunnis win.
The overwhelming majority of Shi'ites win.
The Kurds win.
The children win.
The future wins.
The American troops win and they will return home leaving a grateful Nation of Iraqis where the carnage is no more, to a grateful Nation of Americans who salute their courage and service.
And who loses in this scenario?
The terrorists lose, Mr. President, the terrorists lose. Because if all Iraqis reach a cease fire with each other, this is what will happen to the Bin Ladenist terrorists: they will be run out of town, or they will be dead.
Instead of a war in which everyone loses until everyone is dead, we can make an honest offer for peace that lifts the aspirations of the great and overwhelming majority of Iraqis, and inflicts a defeat on the terrorists who are the greatest beneficiaries of the President's current policy.
It may not work, but then again it may, and it is a darn sight better than what what is being discussed today.
The American people did not vote for variations on a theme of failure, or for more steps down the tragic road our President has travelled from the day he initiated this misbegotten war, until today.
It is not time to continue our debates about how to escalate this.
It is time to begin a debate, about how to end it.