Thursday, November 30, 2006

Jonah Goldberg: Americans Hate Losing

Have you heard the comparisons yet? If you're a consumer of the TV MSM you have. You've heard about how we've been in Iraq longer than we were all over the world during WWII. In a LA Times Op-Ed, Jonah Goldberg takes on that silly argument with this (I'm taking a rather long quote, the information is important):

Let us start with the obvious. World War II may have lasted 1,347 days, but it cost the lives of 406,000 Americans and wounded 600,000 more. Losses among Allied civilians and military personnel stretched into the tens of millions. Whole cities were razed, populations displaced, economies shattered. The number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq remains much less than 1% of our WWII losses.

World War II ended when the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japanese cities, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. Were it not for those grave measures, the war might have lasted for another year or two and cost many more lives. So maybe those wielding the WWII yardstick as a cudgel would prefer we gave Sadr City and Tikrit the Hiroshima-Nagasaki treatment? That would surely root out even the most die-hard insurgents and shorten the war. The phase of the Iraq war that was comparable to World War II ended in less than three weeks. Remember "shock and awe"? As far as such things go, the conventional war put WWII to shame; the U.S. military victory was akin to defeating all of Italy in less than a month.

The current phase of the Iraq war — whether we call it post-occupation, reconstruction, civil war or whatever — is really a separate war. It's at once a Hobbesian nightmare in which chaos rules as well as a complex, multi-front battle between various regional factions and their proxies. But as insurgencies go, it hasn't lasted very long at all or cost very many American lives.
The Media never seems to tire of being obtuse and melodramatic. Remember all the kvetching over the 1000 lost in Iraq? The implication that Americans just don't get how bad war really is got driven home daily, hourly. War is bloody hell. Who exactly wants wasted lives? Why those Neocons, of course! They like killing people--especially their own.

This nonsense turns deadly serious when considering withdrawing from a just-begun war. There are many "regional factions and their proxies" as Goldberg says and they've all come home to wage war with the Great Satan. Iraq is a nice, central location to bring the fight to the enemy. It is also a scene of some chaos.

One point Goldberg doesn't mention, is that while the Americans fought just under 1,500 days, the Brits and Russians and Germans and French and Japanese and Italians and everyone else all around Europe had been in the throws of serious warfare for some time--since September 1939. When the Americans entered and gave the Allies the boost they needed to overcome a conventional enemy (one whose troops ostensibly didn't view dying as a path to 70 virgins) the enemy had already been beaten down to a certain extent. And in Japan, where a cultish craziness gripped an entire population, serious fire fought that ideological fire. It might take some of this kind of fire to deal with the current cultish thinking.

Goldberg concludes:
Indeed, when partisans claim that the American people are fed up and want our troops home, they're deliberately muddying the waters. The American people have never objected to far-flung deployments of our troops. We've had soldiers stationed all over the world for decades.

What the American people don't like is losing — lives or wars. After all, you don't hear many people complaining that we still have troops in Japan and Germany more than 20,000 days later.

The notion of leaving Iraq behind to the same kind of fate as Vietnam is sickening. Now there's a legacy of Vietnam that's relevant. Turning tail and leaving allies to the mercy of murderous thugs--Americans can't like that. Turning tail and leaving America's interests exposed to destruction--Americans can't like that, either. Turning tail and leaving America exposed to an emboldened enemy--Americans must at least get bothered a little bit by that.

War is hell. America needs to give the enemy a lot more hell.