They Win by Losing

How Republicans win if we lose in Iraq
Bush and the GOP are shifting tactics just like Nixon did with Vietnam — to win the next election, not the war.

In the end, the Vietnam War was a terrible tragedy for the both the U.S. and the Vietnamese — but it was a great success for the Republican Party. Nixon and Kissinger's "decent interval" created the myth of the Democratic Party as weak and anti-military and helped keep the White House in Republican hands for all but 12 of the last 30 years.

Bush's "surge" is the "decent interval" redux. It's too little, too late, and it relies on the Iraqis to do what we know full well they can't do. There is no realistic likelihood that it will lead to an enduring solution in Iraq. But it may well provide the decent interval the GOP needs if it is to survive beyond the 2008 elections.

The surge makes Bush look, as Goldberg suggests, like he really wants to win, even as he refuses to take the necessary and honest steps to mitigate the terrible damage we've already done. The surge buys time — and meanwhile, the Democratic Party is placed in the same untenable position it was in during the last stages of the Vietnam War.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Madmouser
    Jan 17, 2007 @ 16:04:00

    Politics is a down and dirty game.


  2. Schomer
    Jan 17, 2007 @ 17:14:00

    I've got this theory that the Republicans knew they would lose the House and Senate – actually, planned it that way – and are just setting things up to get another Republican elected president. LOLNow that the Democrats got what they wanted out of the election, I wonder when/if they will stop whining about the Republicans and actually come up with some kind of new idea of their own, stop flip flopping (more troops? fewer troops? pull out?), and give up on the 'republicans are bad' moto that is supposed to make them look better. It's not working for me. Frankly, I think it's kind of sad that they can't pull it together more – when we've had such a bad president and are in such an awful situation in Iraq. The next presidential election should be a slam dunk.BTW, would like to hear what you think of Obama getting into the game. Think the Democrats will tear him apart because he's not liberal enough or doesn't have enough experience?


  3. Timmy!
    Jan 18, 2007 @ 12:02:00

    I'd like the Dems to stop whining and start playing hardball like the R's did under Delay. I'd like to see some ruthlessness on their part. I'd like to see the "100 hours" agenda passed and I wouldn't mind them steamrolling over some Rs in the process (I might even enjoy it). I think the Dems are pulling together just great—-for Dems. Remember, Dems are traditionally independent thinkers, each of them policy wonks and controlling them is like herding cats. Under the circumstances, I think Pelosi is doing respectable. For the most part she has the House by the balls and she should squeeze hard on every issue and any Dems that step out of line should be punished severely.The Senate, on the other hand, is a problem. The majority is tenuous and depends on the utterly contemptible Joe Lieberman, who has said he will caucus with the Republicans if he doesn't get his way. A thousand curses on his head, starting with bone cancer. And the seven plagues of Egypt upon Connecticut for sending him back to the Senate.Anyways, I'm with you: enough of the whining. Cut off funding for this Iraq misadventure and do it YESTERDAY. As for Obama, he is not liberal enough for me and neither is Clinton. I like John Edwards who is currently leading. (Any of them would be vastly better than Giuliani or Saint McCain. Romney is the worst of the Republican serious contenders, but I have faith that the religious bigotry of the American voter will keep that mormon out of the White House.) Yes, Obama will suffer the slings and arrows, which he largely hasn't been subject to as of yet. I don't know how the Dems will hit Obama, though the Republicans are already starting with thinly-veiled racist attacks on his parentage and the ridiculous word-association game they are playing with his odd sounding first and last name and his unfortunate middle name. It will be interesting to see how he survives. Finally, I don't believe in your phrase "slam dunk." We are not living in a reality-based world where slam-dunks play out. Given the state of the country in 2000, given the record surplus and eight years of peace and prosperity under Clinton, Gore should have skated into the house without a problem. Ditto 2004 with Kerry, given Bush's unpopular, unnecessary war, born on the wings of a lie. But neither of them could withstand the Republican lie machine.


  4. Schomer
    Jan 19, 2007 @ 10:52:00

    I think things are different
    now, as compared to the last presidential election. People still had hope that
    Iraq would be a success. People felt like Bush should finish what he started.
    Today, I think it's completely different.Also, back then, I think Kerry
    was a mess. I wondered if the democrats set him up to fail – knowing Bush would
    have to keep going with this mess of a war, and knowing the Dems would have a
    much easier time getting into the white house later. But I can't honestly think
    that way. That kind of thinking is not realistic.


  5. Timmy!
    Jan 20, 2007 @ 10:18:00

    The point I am trying to make is that the right wing has historically relied upon the dolchstoss myth. It is not saying the set out to fail (that's just stupid), it's saying they are capitalizing on their own failure, shifting blame onto the Democrats. They did this post Viet Nam (if only the fucking hippies / anti-war doves / peacenicks / jane Fondas hadn't made us leave early, if only we'd stuck it out, then we wouldn't have lost Viet Nam, yadda yadda yadda). Surely you perceive the echoes of this even now, how Democrats are considered soft on defense and how Republicans seem to own the issue of security, when all the evidence I've ever seen tells me this perception is completely unjustified. This dolchstoss myth is a right-wing staple. They dig it up and trot it out every few years as if the idea is fresh and new. The Republicans are not stupid. They are politically smart. They know we are losing in Iraq and since this is their war they know they are going to suffer in '08 unless they do some SERIOUS blame shifting between now and then. They are starting up the dolchstoss myth even now. D'Souza's new book is the latest chapter of this nonsense. For an interesting primer on the stab-in-the-back nonsense that will
    be trotted out as soon as we leave Iraq (whenever that may be), you
    could check the comments in this Protein Wisdom thread. A sample or two:

    only battles we are loosing are on the propaganda front, and with 5th
    columnists like Campos & Co., is it really any wonder? General Giap
    of North Vietnam has been quoted as saying that the North knew they
    were beaten on the battlefield, but grimly hung on counting on Hanoi
    Jane and Co. to snatch defeat from the Jaws of U.S. victory for them.
    Plus ca change.

    You defeatists are ‘loosing’ this war, damnit. And then there is this:

    to soldiers I’ve heard comment on the matter, morale is down because
    they are winning every battle in Iraq and losing support at home. This
    speaks to my dogged determination to stick to the point more than
    anything else. Well, that, and it has been obvious to me from the
    beginning that such a tactic of naysaying and dissenting for the sake
    of dissent could very well turn prognostications of defeat into a
    self-fulfilling prophecy.

    And this:

    enemy’s tactic for achieving stratigic victory is to not fight in the
    traditional sense. Rather they plan operations designed to grab
    headlines in the western media in the hopes we become demoralized,
    convince oursleves all is lost, and head for home. And that is what is
    so frustrating about reading your comments, those of Campos, and the
    current situation. Our military WILL NEVER
    be defeated directly by the rag-tag groups fighting us in Iraq. You
    know this, I know this, and most defintately they know this. But they
    also know they don’t have to, and that folks like Campos are their
    greatest allies.

    And my personal favorite:

    I don’t know how much troop demoralization there is out there. From
    what I’ve heard, troop morale is pretty good, because they can see for
    themselves the progress they make and the situation as it actually
    stands. Sure, they’re pissed about media coverage, but they don’t
    believe it, unlike the folks at home, who have little or no information
    beyond what the MSM feeds them.

    I would
    contend that the defeatist drumbeat is having its greatest effect here
    at home, and that’s where we’re going to win or lose the battle of
    Iraq. Even if troop morale remains sky-high for the duration, they
    can’t win a war if their funding is pulled, the ROE are too restrictive, the strategy is too tentative, or any of a number of factors that originate entirely within the US.

    defeatists have convinced the US public that We Can’t Win, and that is
    reflected in opinion polls and elections. It’s hard to argue for
    diminished troop morale because of the defeatists, but the causality
    between the news reports and how people vote is much tighter and much

    We often talk about the hazards of Emboldening the
    Jihadis, but what about Emboldening Murtha and Pelosi? Our military can
    handle the jihadis, but they are helpless against a Congress who sees
    retreat as the only viable solution and who believes that the public
    supports them.

    We can win the war against the jihadis only if
    the US public have the will to do so. The erosion of will and
    determination can be placed squarely at the feat of the defeatists in
    the media and elsewhere.

    So they have all the
    bases covered, you see! If we win, it is because these brave stalwarts
    stuck it out on their blogs, and lavished unrelenting praise on the
    troops and the President. They stayed the course, you see, and because
    of them the troops could get the job done!

    If we lose, it
    wasn’t because of anything this administration, the Pentagon, or their
    blind support for a leadership that didn’t deserve it. It is because of
    the lying ass media and those pussy Democrats.

    Heads, I win; tails, you lose.

    BTW- Byran at Hot Air spent four days embedded with soldiers in Iraq and has also decided the media is a bunch of traitors:

    misconduct and malpractice leading to flagging homefront morale. This
    one isn’t so much a mistake as just part of the modern world. The media
    is incurious, generally unethical in its approach to reporting Iraq and
    far more skeptical of the US military than it is of the insurgents, the
    militias and even the Iranians. The media hardly ever reports on
    victories in Iraq because the kinds of things that demonstrate real
    success just aren’t sexy, and perhaps because at their core they don’t
    believe in victory. It’s sexy to talk about US troops engaging
    insurgents on Haifa Street and killing every last one of them, but
    that’s not a real victory in the terms that govern the Iraq conflict.
    Street fights and reports about them play into the enemy’s hands, in
    fact. The media poo-poos events like the re-opening of schools in Iraq
    because as defined on American terms, re-opening a school doesn’t mean
    much at all. But in Iraq, the re-opening of a school represents a
    community in the end state of achieving normalcy. A community that has
    a functioning school also has a liveable level of security, it has
    functioning services like power and water and has families that aren’t
    so worried about local violence that they won’t send their children
    outside their homes. It means there are probably jobs in the area, and
    it means that those jobs give families a level of economic security
    where they can think about their children’s future. Re-opening a school
    in Iraq means civil society itself has returned to that school’s
    community. It’s a big deal. But the media doesn’t understand that and
    doesn’t care to, preferring to focus on combat operations and sectarian
    killings while it farms its daily reporting duties out to very dubious
    agents and stringers. The MSM’s methods in Iraq feed the insurgency’s propaganda needs and damage our efforts to win.


  6. Kaegan
    Jan 21, 2007 @ 01:55:00

    American politics. *shudder* It's sad that I feel a compelling urge to follow it, yet I can't help but feel extremely depressed by it. The arguing, the bickering… it just seems so pointless some days. Yet, I watch the Daily Show, like any semi-intelligent person my age.


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