On “Cut and Run” and Ending the Iraq War

During Vietnam, we saw that war was fought not for national security concerns but for image and prestige. President Nixon spoke about “peace with honour,” in which 50-55% of the casualties occurred AFTER he decided to "end" the war through Vietnamisation in 1969. The war had to be ended in a manner to preserve US prestige which was identified with appearing to be strong and tough and resolute. Some 28,000-30,000 Americans died as it was "ending."

The emphasis on “cut and run” that Republicans are using apparently is meant to indicate that deaths of American soldiers are less important than avoiding the appearance of losing a war and not finishing “the job.” There is nothing to finish. Ending a war that cannot be won is honourable. Staying merely to prove that the U.S. is the alpha male among nations is without rationality. 

The U.S. in both instances is not waging war for purposes of vital interests or national security but, in the process of losing both wars, believes it must look strong and credible to "other" nations and subnational groups that it construes as its enemy. So continued war in Iraq is to send images of strength and resolve to others. No other nation in the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall conducts its foreign affairs in such a crude and shallow manner. “Cut and run” is a slogan but does not go beyond that into analysing the current situation, developing a specific strategy for identifying benchmarks that could lead to withdrawal or address the ramifications of continued struggle on the soldiers and the Iraqi people. 

Also the superpatriots are clearly attempting to use “cut and run” to suggest that reflection on the war is cowardly, advocacy to stop the killing is weak and that only continuing the war with throw-away lives of American soldiers, is preferable because the U.S. won’t be seen as conceding defeat or error in this crusade.

This is the state of moral bankruptcy in America. Even when a war is over; even when its supporters have no reasoned argumentation to continue the conflict, the war continues due to “image,” “prestige” and not wanting to appear to have been defeated. Who will be the last American casualty to die for a mistake that is now fought only for political machinations? Even though most Americans have turned against the war and believe it was a mistake, prowar politicians are attempting to gain from the usually successful sloganeering that antiwar advocates are weak and likely to render America vulnerable and defenceless against its adversaries. The opposite is the case. Continued war drains our nation of vital resources, stimulates greater resistance against it both INTERNALLY and externally and reduces America's world role and desire to retain hegemonic influence. The latter is fine with me but prowar advocates fail to see that war in the 21st Century is not very effective in expanding regional and global influence. Hegemonic stability was a good theory but ignored or minimised the destabilisation that superpower expansionism invariably causes.

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