I'm not going to deny that David Ignatius makes a legitimate point or two here, but what's the deal with "Some extreme war critics are so angry at Bush they seem almost eager for America to lose, to prove a political point." That's a serious charge. Does Ignatius have evidence for it? No. Does he cite any examples? No. Does he name any names? No. I find it extremely frustrating that you're allowed to toss off this kind of liberal-bashing without providing any backing.Well, let me volunteer one name and example: Me. I want America to lose in Iraq, as quickly as possible.
I've said before, over and over (ad nauseam for my readers, I'm sure) that the only option left for America is withdrawal from Iraq. Bush says this would be perceived as a victory for the jihadists and a defeat for the Americans. And - in this one instance - George W. Bush is probably right. What's more, withdrawal won't merely be perceived as a defeat for the United States, it will actually be a defeat for the United States. A large, oil-producing country will all but certainly be convulsed in a bloody civil war. That's a defeat for the US, right there. Even worse, the likely victors from that civil war are likely to align with Iran, a country the United States has made in to an adversary. Defeat two. Finally, unless the central government of Iraq is much more powerful than I believe is likely, you've got the prospect of terrorists launching attacks against Turkey, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Defeat three.
I don't want all or any of these things to happen, but at this point, the United States can do nothing to avoid its eventual departure from Iraq. The only thing it can do by staying - and this has been true for years now - is get more US troops killed, and far, far more Iraqis killed. So yes, America needs to leave Iraq, be defeated in the region, and as soon as possible.
Am I trying to prove a political point, as David Ignatius argues? Well, the biggest point I can make is that the only way for America to have not been defeated in Iraq was not to go to war in Iraq. (Alternate thesis: war by competents would have made "not-defeat" less unlikely, but it's a thin reed.) As that Matthew Broderick movie taught us, in some games the only way to win is not to play at all.