Thursday, February 15, 2007

Victory In Iraq : Freedom, Liberty, Peace & Car Bombings

This post originally appeared on the Road To Surfdom blog.

We've come a long way from the days when Victory In Iraq was defined by Coalition of the Willing leaders as something close to the peace and security we enjoy.

When a democratic and West-friendly Iraq would be free of violence and terror, and the fear of sudden death-by-explosion had faded like the memory of Saddam's torture brigades.

The definition of what will constitute "victory" in iraq has been consistently watered down by President Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard over the past twelve months. Howard now gives entire interviews on Iraq without even mentioning what he thinks "victory" would look like.

But President Bush has set the bar set the bar at a new low, where victory is now defined as...well, something close to the Iraq we see today. Car bombings and all.

From Bush's press conference yesterday :

Q: You talk about victory, that you have to have victory in Iraq; it would be catastrophic if we didn't. You said again today that the enemy would come here, and yet you say it's not an open-ended commitment. How do you sqaure those things?

BUSH : You know, victory in Iraq is not going to be like victory in World War II. It's one of those challenges I have to explain to the American what Iraq will look like in a situation that will enable us to say we have accomplished our mission.

First..Iraq will be a society in which we have relative peace. I say "relative peace" because if it's like zero car bombings, it never will happen that way...the fundamental question is, can we help this government have the security force level necessary to make sure that the ethnic cleansing that was taking place in certain neighbourhoods has stopped.

So, the definition for 'Victory In Iraq' for Bush, right now at least, is having Iraqi security forces in place to stop ethnic cleansing, but with car bombings of crowded markets accepted as just part of the colourful mix of newfound "freedom and liberty".

But what can you do?

Apparently, some people in Iraq will always want to pack their backseat with 50 kilos of fertiliser and fuel oil and drive it into the local pet market.

As some people will always want to dump a suitcase full of thermite and a remote control detonator into the boot of a stranger's vehicle, when they're not looking, and then follow them through the streets of Baghdad until the bomb-laden car ahead passes a desireable target.

I get the feeling we're going to be hearing Coalition of the Willing leaders using the term "relative peace" a lot more often than the word "victory", in the months ahead, as Bush gets closer to the Baker-Hamilton phased withdrawal plan he now thinks isn't such a dodgy idea after all.