Friday, December 01, 2006

Who Loses

[posted by Callimachus]

Andrew Sullivan rails against "The new meme from the right," which he paraphrases as "the American people - not president Bush - lost the war in Iraq."

And he reaches for one of his newfound friends on the anti-war left, Josh Marshall (who was against overthrowing Saddam even though he thought Saddam had WMD) in bolstering his view that this is "a sickening piece of denialist drivel."

As Josh puts it:

It really does seem as though the cardinals of DC punditry are constitutionally incapable of believing that George W. Bush has ever - in the real sense - gotten anything wrong or that they, the Washington establishment, has gotten anything wrong over the last six years.

All of which goes to show what happens to otherwise healthy minds when they spend too much time paying attention to "D.C. pundits." The idea that peoples, not presidents, win or lose wars is not "the new meme from the right." It's the old meme from history.

You don't pick up a textbook and read that the North defeated Jefferson Davis. Or that FDR defeated Japan. Or that the North Vietnamese defeated Lyndon B. Johnson. You get the idea. Like it or not, "the Americans lost" will be how it gets into the history books if those who slaver for American defeats get their way. [FWIW, I also don't think the jihadis will be running around firing their AK-47s in the air and shouting, "We defeated the Bush Administration (but not the American people)!!! Allah-hu akbar!"]

Have we lost the will to win this fight. Definitely. Whose fault is that? Plenty of blame to go around, and Bush and his friends have their share. But the consequences will be there for all of us. And I'm haunted by the possibility that, as in Vietnam after Creighton Abrams took over the war, we've lost the will to fight it just about the time we made every possible mistake and finally learned what to do that could win it.

No war in American history was worse begun, more wastefully waged, and as incompetently managed as the Civil War -- on both sides, and yet the will of the peoples on both sides of the line kept the armies inspired and alive. Until one collapsed in exhaustion. With determination and unity and belief in itself, little Plataea can hold off Sparta and Thebes combined and plucky England can grind down mighty Spain. Without it, the vastest empire on earth can burst like a puff ball.

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