Chuck Hagel on Winning And Losing

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An interesting op-ed that comes right out and says, “We’re not gonna make this thing any better, and we never really were.”

From Washington Post:

There will be no victory or defeat for the United States in Iraq. These terms do not reflect the reality of what is going to happen there. The future of Iraq was always going to be determined by the Iraqis — not the Americans.

Iraq is not a prize to be won or lost. It is part of the ongoing global struggle against instability, brutality, intolerance, extremism and terrorism. There will be no military victory or military solution for Iraq. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger made this point last weekend.

The time for more U.S. troops in Iraq has passed. We do not have more troops to send and, even if we did, they would not bring a resolution to Iraq. Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations. We are once again learning a very hard lesson in foreign affairs: America cannot impose a democracy on any nation — regardless of our noble purpose.

Well, that last statement is only partially true. We have imposed democracy before, but it was the boot-on-neck variety. Hagel is ultimately right, though, because this option is no longer viable for any nations wanting to be seen as a beacons of truth, justice and all that other stuff. Boot-on-neck democracy is always mean and messy, and that doesn’t sit well with the citizens of the free world.

What’s sadly ironic is that Saddam was the evil glue that held together these different tribes. He was Iraq’s boot for decades, albeit a far more repulsive and bloody one; but a boot nonetheless. Now he’s gone and unless you want to resort to his brand of sickness, you’re not going to keep Iraq from splitting apart.

In any event, read the whole thing from Hagel. These are some bitter pills to swallow, but I’m convinced that we need to be taking our medicine sooner rather than later.