Today November 22nd 2008 shall be known as Victory in Iraq Day or VI day.
By every measure, The United States and coalition forces have conclusively defeated all enemies in Iraq, pacified the country, deposed the previous regime, successfully helped to establish a new functioning democratic government, and suppressed any lingering insurgencies. The war has come to an end. And we won.
What more indication do you need? An announcement from the outgoing Bush administration? It’s not gonna happen. An announcement from the incoming Obama administration? That’s really not gonna happen. A declaration of victory by the media? Please. Don’t make me laugh. A concession of surrender by what few remaining insurgents remain in hiding? Forget about it.
The moment has come to acknowledge the obvious. To overtly declare a fact that has already been true for quite some time now. Let me repeat:
WE WON THE WAR IN IRAQ
This chart shows Military Deaths by month, these are the lowest levels yet, and in October of the 14 casualties only 7 were from combat, the rest are accidents or out of theater deaths. Twice as many people were shot and killed in the city of Chicago during the same time periods.
So why is there still troops in Iraq if we won?
Wars may be won but postwar occupations generally don’t end crisply and cleanly like that. Troops often stay around to rebuild or to maintain the peace for years, even decades. Hell, the United States still has several military bases and many troops “occupying” Japan and Germany who have been there continuously since the end of World War II in 1945. We have two major Air Bases in Korea leftover from the Korean War. The Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba is a remnant of the Spanish-American War and has been there for over a century; the U.S. military also “occupied” the Philippines at Subic Bay for nearly a hundred years as a result of the Spanish-American War. More recently we continue to have a presence in Bosnia at Tuzla Air Base as a consequence of our role in the Bosnian War of the 1990s. What all this means is that it is standard practice in the aftermath of nearly every overseas war in which the U.S. participates for us to keep some troops there on a permanent or semi-permanent basis.
A common mis-perception of warfare is that when a war is “won,” all fighting immediately stops, and that all members of the losing side passively lay down their arms and surrender. While that does happen on occasion, much more frequently the fighting continues as a low-level guerrilla war or insurgency for years afterwards by the diminishing die-hard loyalists of the losing side. Even wars with crushing conclusive victories and official declarations of surrender saw continued fighting long after those wars were officially “over.” After World War II, which was won as conclusively as any war was ever won, some Germans refused to acknowledge defeat and continued to operate as guerrilla assassins and saboteurs. Anti-Semitic massacres in Europe continued into 1946 long after the Nazis had been defeated. In the Pacific Theater, Japanese “holdouts” on various islands kept up their battle posts against the Americans for years and years after Japan surrendered, some well into the 1970s. After the American Civil War ended in 1865, several pro-slavery guerrilla terrorist organizations and groups of individuals not actually declared war on anyone since 1942.) continued fighting against the Union for more than a decade. The same is true of many other wars. It especially happens in modern “police actions” (such as the Iraq War) which have no actual formal “Declaration of War” and thus no official moment of surrender or ending point. (Remember that the United States
So, just because there are still occasional suicide bombings (which are becoming rarer and rarer with every passing month) and occasional sniper attacks or IED explosions (also becoming increasingly rare), that doesn’t indicate that “the war is still being fought.” It just means that there are a handful of die-hard extremists who refuse to give up — which is exactly what happens after most wars. The last remaining pro-Saddam, pro-jihad or pro-Iran holdouts in Iraq are no different than any other post-war holdouts, and just because there are still a few left doesn’t mean that the war is still happening, any more than the existence of the Japanese holdouts meant that WWII continued after 1945. Wars end, whether or not every single extremist or die-hard acknowledges it and lays down his weapons.