Those of us who hold to the idea that we still-and must-win in Iraq are ridiculed. Even though the U.S. had had successes in Iraq, Victor Davis Hanson notes:
“The globalized media is an American epiphenomenon, but the narrative of the war is still the IED, not the purple finger. We apparently have no way of convincing the world that the primordial enemy commits daily something far worse than the sexual humiliation of the entire Abu Ghraib fiasco. Somehow ‘thousands have been killed’ is never qualified as those mostly butchered and blown up by insurgents – since the loose use of the passive voice lends a general sense that somehow Americans are directly involved in, or responsible for, the killing.
“Our soldiers are fighting brilliantly, and history will record they are defeating the enemy while suffering historically low casualties. But if the sacrifice of American youth is not tied – daily, hourly – to larger strategic and humanitarian goals by eloquent statesmen who believe in the mission, then cynicism follows and, with it, despair.
“The establishment of consensual government in Iraq, with the concomitant defeat of jihadists, will have positive ripples that will undermine Islamism and help to cleanse the miasma in which al Qaeda thrives. But again, unless explained, most Americans will not see a connection between the ideology of the head-drillers and head-loppers we are fighting in Iraq and those who try to do even worse at Fort Dix and the Kennedy airport. The war to remove Saddam was won and is over; the subsequent and very different war in Iraq that followed is for nothing less than the future of the Middle East – and now involves everything from global terrorism and nuclear proliferation to the world’s oil supply and the future of Islam in the modern world.”
What is required to win?
“We can quibble and fight about tactics on the ground, manpower numbers, strategic postures toward Iran and Syria, the need to prod the Iraqis, but our problem is more existential. Either stabilizing Iraq now is felt critical to the United States and the West or it isn’t. If the Left is right that it isn’t, then we should flee; if they are wrong, and I think they are, then we must start using our vast cultural and media resources to explain what is at stake – in a strategic and humanitarian sense – and precisely what it is costing America and why it in the long run is worth it, and how we have adjusted to counter our enemies who in the last four years have not won in Iraq or anywhere else either.”