US troops in Iraq; photo courtesy of BBC
One of the last remaining arguments that pro-war supporters still offer goes something like this: "Those who want us to leave Iraq are really saying they want the United States to lose the war."
There are a number of problems with this argument. The most obvious, of course, is the fact that the US military won the actual conventional war, which occurred during March and April of 2003. The Iraqi military was quickly destroyed, and Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled.
American troops are currently stuck in the middle of a low-grade civil war, one that is no longer being fought like a conventional war. The US military is "losing" this war in one sense, but it is unreasonable to expect a military designed to fight large scale conventional wars to "win" against unconventional opponents carrying out terrorist attacks in an urban setting.
Supposing, though, that I agree with the warhawk claim that a peacenik like me is really calling for a "defeat" in Iraq by calling for a withdrawal of troops. What, precisely, is the danger in "losing" in Iraq, and why are people so worked up about "losing" this war?
I have "lost" a few times in my life, and - despite the initial setback - I have always grown and learned from my losses. Using a sports analogy, teams rarely win every game, and use losses as opportunities to improve the team. Sometimes many seasons go by before a given team returns to winning form.
There may indeed be legitimate reasons for keeping troops in Iraq (such as regional stability, or supporting the nascent Iraqi government), but the idea that the United States will somehow be forever damaged by ending its occupation of Iraq is absurd.
In a similar fashion we "lost" in Vietnam, and life went on. Unfortunately, lessons learned after the Vietnam debacle were ignored by the current administration. If bringing home the troops means we somehow "lose" the war, then this might indeed be an opportune time to rethink and retool the American agenda.