Iraq, The Middle East, The USA , the world.... will never be the same as the result of this adventure in stupidity and I don't feel that the changes will be positive ones anytime soon.
Stop all this victory in Iraq bullshit talk. There's no such thing.
E_brown's opening post asks for specific criteria for declaring victory in Iraq. You, Brandon, have not provided a specific criterion, you have provided a vague statement which leaves open several questions--such as what constitutes a stable democracy (a simple democracy leaves the Shi'ites in charge, and the Sunnis excluded, which, as present experience shows, fuels the insurgency--therefore, simple democracy in Iraq as presently constituted does not promise stable democracy), and what "capable of defending itself" means (note that in the initial post, E_brown writes: I ask that if you respond, you be specific and measurable-- a good measure of victory would be something like-- less then 10 acts of political violence a day.).
Personally, i would consider ten acts of political violence each day to be far too high a level of violence to constitute stability, or to provide evidence of effective self-defense: ten acts a day can kill a hundred people, even hundreds of people, which makes Iraq a far more dangerous place for its citizens than it was in the 25 year reign of Hussein. I understand that E_brown was just demonstrating the type of benchmark he was seeking--and i'm commenting that that specific example of a benchmark is unrealistic as a measure of stability.
Finally, i stated that i considered your response to KW's post to be partisan sniping because of the implication that those who disagree with you do not intend to "do the right thing," and do intend to "just walk away from people who will suffer." However, you have responded to that, not by addressing my claim, and attempting logically to refute, but by making a personal characterization of me as a posting member of this site. Therefore, applying the legendary "Brandon Rule" of online debate, i declare myself the winner of that exchange.
I'm all on tenterhooks, i can hardly wait to find out what sort of prize the modergators will award me.
I agree with Bear that there is not formula for victory in Iraq in the present circumstances. Iraq as constituted should never have been created as a nation. It was from the outset a "nation" which represented millions of people under the rule of a Sunni Arab minority, both when it was a monarchy, and after the assassination of the King and the Crown Prince, when it became a "secular" state under a Ba'athist Arab Socialist regime.
Democracy in Iraq--a democracy which is not fiddled by either quotas for parliamentary representation, ministerial appointment, or semi-autonomous areas--means Shi'ite rule, and, sooner or later, a government supported by and very likely dominated by Iran. These are conditions unacceptable to conservative Republicans. The situation is therefore even more likely to deteriorate over the next two years, unless the new Congress can force a real change (as opposed to a cosmetic change) in administration policy--which i doubt.
I frankly believe this will only work with a loose union of autonomous regions, and that still leaves a problem, because there would be no significant petroleum-producing operations in the Sunni-dominated region. I doubt that the current government ever intends to wed a Sunni Arab autonomous region to a Kurd autonomous region with a Shi'ite region the population of which exceeds those of the other two combined. The Turks would not accept an autonomous Kurd region, although i doubt if they would attempt to intervene in an outright military action--more likely, the would act to undermine any autonomous Kurd region, and by extension, destabilize Iraq. The Persians already wield considerable influence in Iraq, and are likely only to increase their influence. I rather doubt that they would graciously support a union of three autonomous regions--although they might.
I thought the idea of this thread interesting because i would like to see someone propose specific measures by which we can determine that we have fulfilled our responsibilities to the Iraqi people. I begin to doubt, however, that we will see such a response.
Re: What does "Victory in Iraq" Mean?
Conservatives are still using the phrase "We won't get out of Iraq until we have achieved victory"?
However I have know idea what this means. We have already gotten rid of Saddam, and we have ensured that there are no WMD's in Iraq. Is it possible that we have already achieved victory and can start leaving now?
If victory means a stable pro-US government, then staying in Iraq until we get victory means we will be staying in Iraq for a very long time. The problem, of course, is that a government is only stable if all major parts of society accept it (either through an agreed fairness, or through repression). The current government is going in the wrong direction-- getting less and less stable every day as sectarian violence continues rising daily.
So my question is simple. I would like your opinion on what specific things must happen before we can declare that we have "victory" in Iraq (and can start leaving).
I ask that if you respond, you be specific and measurable-- a good measure of victory would be something like-- less then 10 acts of political violence a day.
Our mission was outlined in front of the UN.
Basiclly, enforce the terms of surrender from Gulf War 1, locate and remove any WMD, remove the head of state for failing to comply with UN Resolutions and Term of Surrender from Gulf War 1.
Those objectives have been achieved many many months ago. Therefore victory was achieved.
Nowhere in the original mission statement is there a reference to "building a democracy" within Iraq.