Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Governments lose wars that their armies do not wish to fight. I doubt any army wants to fight in Iraq any more, beyond the demented segment of the officer corps and a few psychotic wastrels who could easily be left behind. Of course, there is a great deal to lose, and the Bush administration will not give up without the serious risk of domestic disorder as well as the breakdown of the army, which no state can do with. Withdrawal would mean leaving a huge embassy unfinished and depopulated, and the construction of several massive bases would have been a colossal waste of effort. It would mean allowing for the possibility that Iraqis might control their oil and cooperate with Iran. It would mean showing every other country in the world that the empire can be defeated. Precisely as the loss in Vietnam opened up possibilities for revolutionaries in US-supported regimes like South Korea, Nicaragua, Iran, Angola, even Portugal and Spain. It reduced the US scope for direct military intervention for decades. Imperial malaise is not something the Bush administration wants to accomplish. Yet, if the army is increasingly unwilling to fight, and if the local surrogates will not do as they are told, no other outcome is available.