Admit Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan and Then Get Out

There are some well-intentioned souls who say we should simply declare victory in our twin wars and immediately begin withdrawing American troops in contingents large enough to show that U.S. intervention is unequivocally winding down.

I’d favor that idea, except for one crucial aspect.

We’re up to our necks in sucking morasses in both places, and nothing even remotely approximating “victory” can legitimately begin to describe what we’ve accomplished (or, more appropriately, not accomplished).

My mother taught me that allegiance to the truth should always take precedence over blind religious faith or unquestioning fealty to nationalistic myths, so I can’t go along.

Let’s bravely acknowledge, instead, that we got our butts whipped, and announce that we’ll be getting our battered behinds back home, pronto!

If we did so, we’d immediately find that the downward pull of the tar pits in which we’re bogged would ease long enough to extricate ourselves. It wouldn’t be a dignified removal, to be sure, but at least we’d avoid getting swallowed entirely — as both the British and Soviets were in imperialism-killing Afghanistan — when their subjective pride was ultimately, lethally trumped by objective reality.

Getting out now, though far from pretty, would be much better than suffering a catastrophically history-shifting defeat along the aforementioned lines, or the abject humiliation that France endured at the hands of Vietnam at Dien Bien Phu.

Everyone understands that Afghanistan, from the U.S. perspective, is speedily going to Hell in an unraveling hand basket.

But so is Iraq.

Do you not think it’s a sign of failure that our forces there have had to be withdrawn to secure bases beyond Iraqi population centers?

A shameful absence of credible media coverage — or any coverage at all — can’t hide the fact that the last nails are presently being driven into the coffin of U.S. ambition in former Mesopotamia.

Attempting to remain in either country, when actual circumstances powerfully don’t allow it, is an open invitation to disastrous folly.

Republicans argue that we should “do whatever it takes to win.”

What, pray tell, might that be?

We could send to their deaths or terrible maimings just-graduated high school seniors from nearly every town in the USA for endlessly bloody years — at gargantuan monetary cost — and still have just a few blocks of downtown Kabul, or Baghdad, the only safe locations around. Only during broad daylight at that.

Meanwhile, popular antagonism inspired by our heavy-handed occupations would generate fiercely anti-American recruits quicker and more numerously than rain and sunshine give rise to dandelions in springtime.

In other words, we’d just be driving straight toward the ultimate American debacle.

Let’s change the vehicle’s direction, and hold the pedal to the metal as we retreat to rationality and reason.

Our country can save itself from eventual societal disintegration only by completely abandoning its insufferably arrogant, bullying, world-cop attempt to make the rest of humanity over in our corrupt image, by force of indiscriminately discharged arms.

We can’t kill our way to getting others to accept our political, economic, religious, and cultural “values,” which increasing numbers of folks even here at home are rejecting because they’re seen as being hopelessly flawed, if not completely depraved.

Face it. Hardly anyone actually wants to be “just like us.”

And they sure aren’t going to change their minds if we continue to kick down residential doors at midnight or blow up wedding parties with Predator drones, under the cruel assumption that they’re al Qaida gatherings.

We’ve lost. We’ve lost big time.

But nowhere near as massively, tragically, and irreparably as we will if we don’t read the writing on the wall and completely sink beneath that tar, as our purpose suffocates entirely, under the weight of our unrelieved hubris and stupidity.

Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets since the '60s. Read other articles by Dennis.

4 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Josie Michel-Brüning said on October 16th, 2009 at 10:02am #

    I just wonder why there isn’t any applauding comment to this splendid article?

  2. rosemarie jackowski said on October 16th, 2009 at 3:44pm #

    Yes, we should immediately withdraw all troops and also the contractors and bring them back to the US. And then the US should pay reparations to Iraq and Afghanistan. And then all of those responsible for the war should be Tried for War Crimes.

  3. lichen said on October 16th, 2009 at 3:47pm #

    I don’t think the issue is so much admitting failure, as admitting war crimes, and prosecuting those in the bush and obama administrations for illegally murdering civilians, invading and destroying two nations.

  4. russell olausen said on October 16th, 2009 at 11:47pm #

    It is fun to think that in order to escape the rubbish known as culture many run to the more irrational beliefs of fundamental religion. Since America is crowded with people who think the Bible is western mans ‘The Art of War’ retreat is impossible.This is looking like a Nevada casino ending, Sunday morning on the steps crying or you fluke out, win the miracle hand and end up with the most expensive hooker in the joint. Better have a stiff one before the next deal.