Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Victory in Iraq Day
November 22, 2008 We won. The Iraq War is over. I declare November 22, 2008 to be "Victory in Iraq Day." (Hereafter known as "VI Day.") By every measure, The United States and coalition forces have conclusively defeated all enemies in Iraq, pacified the country, deposed the previous regime, successfully helped to establish a new functioning democratic government, and suppressed any lingering insurgencies. The war has come to an end. And we won. What more indication do you need? An announcement from the outgoing Bush administration? It's not gonna happen. An announcement from the incoming Obama administration? That's really not gonna happen. A declaration of victory by the media? Please. Don't make me laugh. A concession of surrender by what few remaining insurgents remain in hiding? Forget about it. The moment has come to acknowledge the obvious. To overtly declare a fact that has already been true for quite some time now. Let me repeat: WE WON THE WAR IN IRAQ And since there will never be a ticker-tape parade down Fifth Avenue in New York for our troops, it's up to us, the people, to arrange a virtual ticker-tape parade. An online victory celebration. Saturday, November 22, 2008 is the day of that celebration: Victory in Iraq Day. What do you need to do to participate? Simple. Just make a post on your blog on Saturday, November 22, announcing that the war is over, and declaring that day to be Victory in Iraq Day. That's it. If you want to write a short post (or a long essay) analyzing the nature of our victory or cheering the troops for a job well done, great; but if you just want to make a simple announcement of the victory, that's fine as well. Anything will do. Just come and join the celebration to mark the day. Keep reading below to find: evidence that the war is over (for the doubters); an historical discussion of previous postwar occupations and guerrilla violence; a list of blogs which have already joined the VI Day movement; free banners and graphics for you to download and put on your blog, if you so choose; and an invitation to submit your own "victory graphics" for posting here. Observations and statistics agree: The fighting has ceased, the war is over I have felt for many months that we had already won the war, but I was spurred to action by this report from Michael Yon: "THE WAR IS OVER AND WE WON:" Michael Yon just phoned from Baghdad, and reports that things are much better than he had expected, and he had expected things to be good. "There's nothing going on. I'm with the 10th Mountain Division, and about half of the guys I'm with haven't fired their weapons on this tour and they've been here eight months. And the place we're at, South Baghdad, used to be one of the worst places in Iraq. And now there's nothing going on. I've been walking my feet off and haven't seen anything." This post at the Mudville Gazette confirmed my conclusions. On the political front in Iraq, victory has broken out as well. On Sunday, November 16, Iraq's cabinet approved a security agreement with the U.S. which top analysts and pundits are saying is the closest we'll ever get to a bureaucratic declaration of victory and of the war's end. Hugh Hewitt, for example, says: The Battle For Iraq Has Been Won. Will The President-elect Preserve The Victory? Yesterday's vote by the Iraqi cabinet to approve a status of forces agreement confirms what most reasonable people had concluded this summer --that the battle for Iraq is over and the country is stable and secure even though its enemies remain in small enclaves within the country and across the border in Iran. It has taken five years and come at a high cost in American lives lost and in thousands of wounded soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. It is, however, a crucial victory in the war against Islamist extremism and for stability in the Middle East. The News & Observer newspaper came to the same conclusion three months ago, and many of the points are still valid: Somebody has to write this. The United States has won the war in Iraq. I'm compelled to proclaim victory because, these days, winning wars has become politically incorrect in Western societies. So much so that some political leaders opposed to the war refuse to recognize the definition of victory or to utter the word. More than five years after the invasion, I still come across people who say they don't know what victory in Iraq means. That's on purpose. Feigning ignorance allows them to deny the obvious political and military progress that has been made and continues to be made each day. The truth is, President Bush has been consistent in defining victory. Bottom line, it's leaving behind a functional and democratic Iraq capable of defending itself from internal and external threats. Iraq is on an irreversible path to meeting those goals. ... There is no doubt that much work needs to be done in Iraq, particularly in political and cultural reconciliation. But for all the moaning about Parliament's failure to reach political benchmarks, Iraqis have achieved more political unity in their country than our Congress has in ours. A peaceful and stable Iraq is no longer in question. It's only a matter of time. So the next time I come across an Iraqi War veteran, I'll not only thank him or her for their sacrifice in defending my freedom, I'll also offer congratulations for winning a war. The full linked article outlined many convincing facts about the state of victory in Iraq. The only thing missing is announcing the date of the war's end. Which this post rectifies. If you don't want to rely on anecdotal evidence or politcal analysis, carefully study the official casualty statistics for U.S. troops in Iraq and you will see that they have reached extremely low levels, so low that they no longer even come close to rising to the level of "war"; it is now more dangerous to walk the streets of most major American cities than it is to be stationed in Iraq. For example, Chicago, just a single city in the United States, all by itself experienced twice as many shootings and killings of Americans as did the entire nation of Iraq over recent months: 125 Shot Dead In Chicago Over Summer Total Is About Double The U.S. Troop Death Toll In Iraq CHICAGO (CBS) -- An estimated 125 people were shot and killed over the summer. That's nearly double the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq over the same time period. What more need be said? Whatever lingering violence still exists is Iraq is now nothing more than a series of minor disconnected terrorist attacks, which have become completely ineffectual in changing the hearts and minds of the populace, or re-igniting another civil war. If we won, why are there troops still in Iraq? Does our victory mean that I advocate the immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq? No. Wars may be won but postwar occupations generally don't end crisply and cleanly like that. Troops often stay around to rebuild or to maintain the peace for years, even decades. Hell, the United States still has several military bases and many troops "occupying" Japan and Germany who have been there continuously since the end of World War II in 1945. We have two major Air Force bases in Korea leftover from the Korean War. The Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba is a remnant of the Spanish-American War and has been there for over a century; the U.S. military also "occupied" the Philippines at Subic Bay for nearly a hundred years as a result of the Spanish-American War. More recently we continue to have a presence in Bosnia at Tuzla Air Base as a consequence of our role in the Bosnian War of the 1990s. What all this means is that it is standard practice in the aftermath of nearly every overseas war in which the U.S. participates for us to keep some troops there on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. Do I advocate that the domestic government of Iraq continue to assume more and more of a role in its own defense and internal security? Most definitely yes. Do I wish to see U.S. troops going on fewer and fewer patrols and handing over more and more duties to the Iraqi army as time goes by? Yes. Do I wish that there would never be another suicide bombing in Iraq by demented jihadists seeking futilely to destabilize the country? Of course. Do I wish that there would never be another act of violence in Iraq? Naturally. But these things take time. So, even though the war is over, American troops are likely to stay on the ground in Iraqi bases in some capacity for quite some time -- months, years, possibly even decades if circumstances warrant. But yes, eventually many troops will have to start coming home one way or the other. I am not opposed to an incremental "drawdown" of forces as responsibilities diminish -- which has already started to happen under the Bush administration and will likely continue under an Obama administration. What I do oppose is a reckless immediate evacuation of all American troops in Iraq as some sort of political "reward" from Obama to his antiwar supporters. That would send the wrong message to Islamic extremists around the world that the Americans were somehow "driven from Iraq," which would not actually be the case. Even if we did leave Iraq entirely, it would be in victory, not as a retreat. Since our troops did in fact win the war, they ought to have a victory parade or national celebration upon returning. But I suspect that, as has been happening up until now, the troops will just drift home mostly unannounced and uncelebrated when their "tours" are over. Which is the very reason why we need to declare a Victory in Iraq Day. If the Iraq War is over, why do we still occasionally hear reports of violence or casualties? A common misperception of warfare is that when a war is "won," all fighting immediately stops, and that all members of the losing side passively lay down their arms and surrender. While that does happen on occasion, much more frequently the fighting continues as a low-level guerrilla war or insurgency for years afterwards by the diminishing die-hard loyalists of the losing side. Even wars with crushing conclusive victories and official declarations of surrender saw continued fighting long after those wars were officially "over." After World War II, which was won as conclusively as any war was ever won, some Germans refused to acknowledge defeat and continued to operate as guerrilla assassins and saboteurs. Anti-Semitic massacres in Europe continued into 1946 long after the Nazis had been defeated. In the Pacific Theater, Japanese "holdouts" on various islands kept up their battle posts against the Americans for years and years after Japan surrendered, some well into the 1970s. After the American Civil War ended in 1865, several pro-slavery guerrilla terrorist organizations and groups of individuals continued fighting against the Union for more than a decade. The same is true of many other wars. It especially happens in modern "police actions" (such as the Iraq War) which have no actual formal "Declaration of War" and thus no official moment of surrender or ending point. (Remember that the United States has not actually declared war on anyone since 1942.) So, just because there are still occasional suicide bombings (which are becoming rarer and rarer with every passing month) and occasional sniper attacks or IED explosions (also becoming increasingly rare), that doesn't indicate that "the war is still being fought." It just means that there are a handful of die-hard extremists who refuse to give up -- which is exactly what happens after most wars. The last remaining pro-Saddam, pro-jihad or pro-Iran holdouts in Iraq are no different than any other post-war holdouts, and just because there are still a few left doesn't mean that the war is still happening, any more than the existence of the Japanese holdouts meant that WWII continued after 1945. Wars end, whether or not every single extremist or die-hard acknowledges it and lays down his weapons. What counts as "being at war"? Many other countries have ongoing issues with rebels, insurgents, guerrillas, or whatever you want to call them; simmering civil unrest. But we do not consider those countries to be at war, even though their situations are not really any different than, and are in some cases even worse than, the situation now in Iraq. Tell me: Do you consider Mexico to be at war? Yet they have an ongoing insurgency by Zapatistas in the state of Chiapas. The Philippines? They've been grappling with an Islamic insurgency for decades. Is Thailand at war? Millions of tourists don't seem to think so, but a violent rebellion by Muslim separatists in the southern provinces sometimes produces more casualties than there are in Iraq. India? They're not at war -- are they? Turkey, Sri Lanka, Colombia: The list could go on and on. In each case, the country in question is not considered to be "at war," yet it endures simmering insurgencies and/or terrorist violence that in some cases exceeds that now found in Iraq. If these countries are not considered by anyone to be "at war" -- which they are not -- then neither is Iraq. But where's the official announcement? The only reason that the war has not been declared "over" is that the media, which was generally opposed to the war and opposed to any of President Bush's policies, doesn't want to give him and his supporters the satisfaction of having been right. The media wants U.S. troops to return home, but only on condition that they do so with their tails between their legs in defeat -- not as victorious liberators, which would invalidate five years of subtle and not-so-subtle anti-war propaganda on the part of the left-leaning media. The Bush administration for its part has not declared victory for two probable reasons: first, because they fear that by so doing they would only increase the call by the media and liberal Democrats to "bring the troops home now"; and also by so doing they might invite some last-ditch spectacular terror attack by the few remaining jihadists in order to embarrass the administration. And the incoming Obama administration will certainly never announce victory, since Obama spent over a year campaigning for the Democratic primary as the anti-war candidate. So both sides refuse to say the war is over. Even though it is, in fact, over. It is up to the American people to declare victory. Which is exactly what we are doing right now. There never will be an "official" announcement from the government or the media, so you can stop waiting for it. This is the official announcement.