The Iraq War and the American Public
So after reading Dean says the U.S. can’t win in Iraq, James’ article in the Tech Central Station, Daniel Drezner’s blog post on the Domestic front for the War, and Kevin Drum’s blog, I have to say, I can now see the argument when people argue that speaking ill of the war effort is actually counter to the war effort. James summarized it best with the following,
The bottom line is that the United States military is pretty good at counterinsurgency. The American public, however, is not.
That is, the U.S. military can win this thing, the problem is it will likely take quite a while and will undoubtedly result in more casualties. Enter the American public, which seemingly has no stomach with today’s nearly instantaneous transmission and distribution of information for a long drawn out conflict involving counter insurgency efforts.
Daniel Drezner gives a more thorough explanation and also looks at the very serious problem if we do lose in Iraq because of the lack of willpower on the public’s part,
The assumption underlying Feaver and Gelpi’s hypothesis is so simple that it’s never stated in the article — if a sufficiently large majority opposes an ongoing military intervention, any administration will have to withdraw regardless of the strategic wisdom of such a move. This is why, I suspect, the administration reacts so badly whenever it deals with domestic criticism about the war — it recognizes that flagging domestic support will translate into a strategic straitjacket (though do read Fred Barnes in the Weekly Standard for a more…. creative explanation).
Frankly, the Democrats tactic of saying we can’t win in Iraq strikes me as precisely the wrong approach to the problem. If the Democrats “win” on this one the result is that we lose. We lose in Iraq and we quite possibly degrad our ability to prosecute the war on terrorism in other parts of the world. Maybe that is what the Democratic party leadership wants, but it doesn’t look like a very good strategy for making the U.S. safer…which ironically is one of the Democrats complaints about invading Iraq in the first place.