Most of the people who call themselves “anti-war” would not go so far as to say that they want us to lose in Iraq,
because most people are still basically patriotic and would rather see “the home team” win, though by now they’
ve realised a genuine victory is impossible.  Many of these people are those that supported the invasion in the first
place because they believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, that we would be greeted as
liberators, that democracy would soon be flourishing throughout the Middle East, gas prices would plummet, and
the economy at home boom.  These are the people who believed in the mission as it was sold to us, and for the
most part they’d still prefer “success” in Iraq to pulling out and letting history record it as a defeat.

But even most of them now know that “success” is just not possible anymore.  In spite of all the reports about
how “the surge is working” it’s pretty much common sense that no matter how low the levels of violence go, it’s
not going to stop any time soon.  Whether we stay there for 10, 20 or 100 more years, when we pull out there
will be bloodshed and violence, there won’t be a western-style democracy, and the region will be a lot less
stable than it was when we went in.  However, we
may be able to reduce the levels of violence enough so that
when we pull out the Bush administration and other hawks can say that Operation: Iraqi Freedom was
basically a
success.

And this is exactly what
can’t happen if you’re looking at the long-term stakes involved.  To understand my
argument you have to go back to the Vietnam War, another conflict that was sold to the American people with
lies and flawed foreign policy doctrines.  Why did we go into Vietnam?  Most people believed it was to fight
communism, but the people at the deepest levels really knew all along that we were there as a colonial power,
keeping the giant military machine running so that we would remain the most powerful country on earth.  The
military industrial complex, which became a major force in the United States after World War II,
needs war to
maintain power, and in Korea and Vietnam they got the wars they were looking for.

What they did not count on was how fierce of a fight they would get from the people of these countries, and how
eventually the American people would overcome their blind patriotism and see what was really going on.  The
American people were too well-informed at that point, and the anti-war movement grew and grew until eventually
they had to pull the troops out and let history record the war as an American defeat.  As a nation, we should have
learned our lesson there—that we can’t go around the world and use our military might to impose our will on
people in their own country.  What we need to do is radically change the way our nation conducts itself in the
world, to be a force for peace as opposed to an empire seeking to expand and maintain its power at all costs.

But these are not the lessons we learned.  Most of the people who fought in Vietnam tried hard
not to learn from
their experiences, even the military itself which stopped training their soldiers in counter-insurgency tactics and
resumed the focus on standard combat operations.  The only people who seemed to learn anything were those at
the heart of the military industrial complex, who did not conclude that we should no longer start unjustified wars
but that we should just be
smarter about it.  The United States, they reasoned, would never have pulled out of
Vietnam if the American people had not seen the horrible images of the reality of war on their televisions, so they
changed the rules of war reporting.  They also knew that Americans would still turn against an unpopular war if
their children were dying, so they could no longer institute a draft and would instead have to alter the rules of
recruitment and let criminals and illegal immigrants serve, as well as use ethically questionable but perfectly legal
methods such as calling discharged people back into the service and extending the tours of those already there.

Now they figure that as long as the average American does not have a son or daughter fighting over there and they
don’t see the images of the civilian casualties and the other horrors going on, they can stay in Iraq for as long as
they want.  They can eventually change the definition of “success” to fit the levels of violence they already have,
and when they pull out they can call it a “win” for the good old U.S.A.  Then a few years down the line, when they
want to invade another defenceless nation in the name of freedom and democracy in order to keep the military
machine running, they can point to Iraq and say, “Look what we did there!  These people were suffering under a
brutal dictator when we got in, and now thanks to us they have their freedom!  We can and must do the same
thing for [insert name of defenceless country here]!”

I don’t want to see that happen.  I want to see us finally learn the lessons that we should have learned in Vietnam
but apparently weren’t ready for at that point in history.  But with two unsuccessful high-profile acts of military
aggression on our part, we may finally come to our senses, realise we’re not as powerful as we thought, and stick
to using the military to
defend ourselves rather than as a tool to secure our international interests and keep
generating billions of dollars for the defence industry.  That’s why we
need to lose in Iraq, and the more of a
beating we take, the better.  I want to see the United States cut and run with our tail between our legs, our asses
so sore from the kicking we received that it will humble us for generations.

So I don’t want to give the surge any more time to work, I don’t want to retain a troop presence until violence has
dropped to an “acceptable” level, and I don’t want to wait until the Iraqi government has time to “get its act
together.”  Basically I don’t want to see any outcome of this conflict that can be spun in any way to be seen as
anything less than a humiliating, soul-crushing defeat.  That may make me a traitor.  And it may seem like an awful
attitude to hope for a violent, catastrophic end to this conflict, but in the long run I believe it will be a lot better for
the world if the United States is forced to take a hard look at where the dominance of the military industrial
complex has brought us, and fix the system so that we won’t be fooled into fighting another bullshit war.

It’s like teaching someone not to put their hand on a hot stove.  The best way to learn is to let them put their hand
on the stove and experience firsthand why this is a stupid idea.  We were burned once with Vietnam.  We need to
be burned again with Iraq, or we can be sure that they will keep finding ways to convince us to put our hands on
the stove again and again.
Why We Can't Afford Victory in Iraq
Kem Stone - January 2008