Goals, Successes, and (lack of?) Failures in Iraq

The Medium Lobster puts it perfectly:

America must win the war in Iraq. This isn’t mere rhetoric, or some militant call to arms. It is merely a statment of fact. There is, at present, no way for America to lose the war, because there is no readily comprehensible plan to win.

Since the start of the Iraq war, the White House has brilliantly concealed its purpose, goals, and rationale. Was the goal a democratic Iraq? A stable Iraq? Any Iraq short of outright civil war? One year into the occupation the endpoint of the project was already so muddled it could be any of those of none of them. And therein lies the genius: if you have no set or discernible goal, there’s no way to fail to accomplish it. And if you can’t fail, how can you not succeed?

As I’ve noted before, this is one of the reasons it is important for there to be a thorough examination of how and why the Bush administration chose to invade Iraq; we can’t really know when we’ve acheived the goals of the invasion until we define what those goals were.

Was the goal simply to ensure that there were no WMDs in Iraq that could threaten the US? We’ve done that. Was the goal to get rid of Hussein and install a democratic government? We’ve done that. Was the goal to be sure that Al Qaeda couldn’t use Iraq as a staging ground? Er… well, actually, we’ve done the opposite on that score, turning what was a no-go zone for Al Qaeda into a haven for recruiting, organization, and target practice on Americans. Or was the goal to create a fundamentally stable, democratic country in the middle east? That goal, I fear, we will never be able to acheive, at least not on our present trajectory…