[OPE-L] Hoagland on "Bush's Vietnam blunder"

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sat Aug 25 2007 - 10:26:17 EDT

Discussing "Bush's Vietnam blunder" in the Washington Post, Jim Hoagland detects an accumulation of policy errors:

...the administration has constantly shifted its goals in Iraq to avoid accepting failure and blame -- only to see the new goals drift beyond reach each time. Liberation of Iraqis became occupation by Americans, democracy became an unattainable centralized "national unity" government and this year's military surge has become a device for achieving political reconciliation among people who do not want to reconcile. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/23/AR2007082301835.html?nav=hcmodule

But this misunderstands the real point, which is that the administration explicitly adopted the PNAC perspective of "permanent war", meaning "we fight until we win, however long it takes". Yet if not only the objectives of the war constantly change, but the war itself is permanent, then there is no way to win it, precisely because it is permanent. You cannot win a permanent war, because it is permanent, it is always there. You just gain some, and lose some, but basically you are always fighting something. If the war is currently not being won, then that is neither here nor there, you just have to keep fighting, as Mr Bush has constantly repeated. His message is simply: "you should fight". 

A problem appears to be the irreconcilability between what they say they are fighting for (abstract themes such as God, freedom, democracy, civilisation etc. are dramatically introduced), and what they are really fighting for (business interests). It seemed at first that this irreconcilability did not matter, if the administration had the power to constantly define and redefine what the war is about, as a sort of permanent "campaign". 

Iraq wasn't liberated, it was conquered, and a client regime was attempted. As Zbigniew Brzezinski put it: "Sovereignity is a concept, but it's a relative concept. If there was a provisional government of Iraq, we could give it symbolic sovereignity and it would help it to gain legitimacy, thereby reducing the need for an assertive occupation." (3 October 2003) Everyone knows that in the end, most Americans don't give a stuff about right and wrong, or about what is true and false, all they care about is whether they are winning. So we can expect the Democrats to try very hard to package a "win-win" situation, the idea being if we can all make some gains, negotiation can replace war. In order to get to this win-win situation, you need to prove that America did something good in Iraq. Hence the reference to "Liberation of Iraqis".


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