Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Defeated Military Causes Problem for a Society

This morning on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos program John McCain told George that one reason we should not set a time table for withdrawing the troops from Iraq would be that if we withdrew from Iraq without a clear-cut victory then our military would feel defeated. McCain said that a military that felt defeated resulted in great problems for our society after our withdrawal from Vietnam (suicide, alcoholism, homelessness, etc.) He felt that withdrawing our military from Iraq without a victory would cause these same sorts of problems again. Apparently it makes no difference that no one is suggesting that the lack of a victory is our military’s fault. If what John McCain says is true then it means that the military mind is incapable of conceiving anything more complex than either clear-cut victory or utter defeat.

If that is true then it suggests that the military is the wrong tool to use in any but the most clear cut situation of national defense or a situation in which the goal is to utterly defeat an entire nation. The current situation, in which the goal was supposed to be to leave Iraq better-off (rather than a smoldering ruin) a clear-cut victory was never a likely outcome – creating a democracy will always be a messy process. What George Bush and John McCain are saying is that once we have committed the military to battle we must, in the absence of a clear-cut victory, continue the war forever. This makes the military sound like a rogue weapon – similar to a torpedo that, if it misses its target, is likely to circle around and sink the ship that launched it.

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