I was just over at Duane’s joint where he referred to a pretty interesting article suggesting some of the ‘successes’ of the conflict in Iraq. This post, coupled with much of the work done over at the blog Iraq the Model would have you believe that Iraqis are holding hands, running through a field of daisies, and singing the score from the Sound of Music. In fact, all around us, there is an increasing pressure for anti-war ideologues to stop complaining about our opposition to the war and finally recognize the successes generated from this campaign against tyranny and oppression.
Considering all of this, I wasn’t particularly suprised when I saw this ad from the Vets for Freedom urging Senator Obama to support Senate Resolution 636; basically endorsing the success of the surge:
*Side note: I can’t say for sure whether this ad was political in nature. But it sure seems like it. It’s pretty obvious to me that this ad is an attempt to corner Obama. If he recognizes the success of the surge, McCain and the Republi-can’ts will immediately stick their chest out saying “See? We were right all along.” If he doesn’t recognize the success of the surge, he’ll be labeled a defeatist and anti-American. It’s a brilliant ad either way.*
Even if this surge has been successful and we’ve finally fulfilled Cheney and McCain’s five year old prediction of being seen as liberators, I think the most important question to ask is simple: was it all worth it?
Since analogies are my thing, here’s how I liken the war in Iraq and the so-called “success” of the surge:
Imagine a couple who is in a load of debt. Being impulsive spenders, they decide (with haste, I should point out) that – despite being in debt – they should purchase a new car. But it’s not just any car; it’s a complete lemon. This couple puts tens of thousands of dollars (that they don’t have) into this vehicle. They take out a second loan on their house, deplete their childrens’ college funds, decimate their retirement funds, borrow money from their neighbors (most of whom can’t stand their guts), and tap their emergency funds to put into this lemon. Many of the funds they gather go toward paying “friends of the family” to do maintenance work even when they are clearly incapable of doing the job correctly (See Halliburton and Blackwater).
When all the work is done, the couple finds that the vehicle is still not completely in working order. The car manages to travel a few miles – sputtering and leaking fluids along the way – before stalling. As a last gasp, the couple decides to go all out and purchase a new engine. This in spite of the looming debt they face. As they hunt for an engine, they don’t settle for any old rinky dink. They get one of these bad boys. The couple splurges (or surges…?). But despite their best efforts, the vehicle never quite makes the cut. After all the work and money invested in the vehicle, it ultimately only gets about a few thousand more miles more before it dies completely.
Imagining that scenario, were all the resources invested in the vehicle worth the few thousand miles of life it received? To put it another way:
U.S. Casualties to date: 4,170
U.S. Injuries: 30,234
Estimated Iraqi civilian casualties: Between 87,000 and 96,000
Cost of the war: Approximately $581 billion
The current state of Iraq: questionable. Arguably getting better, but questionable nonetheless.
Was it all worth it?