One More Unit, Stat

by digby

Luckily he's never been right about anything, so he's probably not right about this.
Today on ABC’s This Week, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman said that as president, Obama would abandon the hunt for Osama bin Ladan and actually decide that the U.S. could “win the war” in Iraq by staying another six months:

FRIEDMAN: I think everything we believe could be wrong. That is Iraq could turn out — that Osama — sorry, not searching for Osama bin Laden could be not the biggest issue for Obama. I think you could actually find out that Obama can win the Iraq war and he will want to actually continue our presence in Iraq for — until 2011.

When host George Stephanopoulos noted that even Gen. David Petraeus refuses to use the terms “victory” or “winning” for Iraq, Friedman walked back his comments slightly, saying Obama would bring Iraq to a “decent ending” but ultimately, “they will conclude that Afghanistan is a loser.”

I keep hearing a lot of rumbling about how Obama isn't going to withdraw from Iraq as promised. Indeed, Muqtada al-Sadr just made a statement about permanent bases yesterday and urged his fellow Shiites to reject the new US-Iraq security deal because of it. But I've never heard that he would conclude he can "win" in Iraq -- and that he would withdraw from Afghanistan because it's "a loser."

Friedman clearly believes that these wars are irrelevant on the merits. They are simply check marks to be put in a president's win and loss column. If that's the case, then perhaps Obama should invade Iceland in his first term. He could probably "win" it with no problem and then he's have a nice little victory right off the bat.

It's hard for me to believe that Friedman still frames these wars in such puerile terms after all we've seen these last few years. First, there was the famous idea that the US had to stick guns in the faces of average Iraqis and say "suck on this" to prove that bad guys couldn't mess with us. As for Afghanistan, well, it's all in how you define "loser." Friedman has always believed that we "won" that war, but the "losers" refused to acknowledge it:

We have won the war. We have not won the hearts and minds of the Arab-Muslim world at all. There's still a lot of people there quietly rooting for bin Laden. Some of that is related to their own frustration with their own governments, we know. A lot of it is related to what we just saw as well. This is their way of getting a little bit of revenge on us for what is perceived to be our unwavering support for Israel. By not granting us our victory, in a sense, by not acknowledging that victory, this meat grinder of people that is being... whose lives are being destroyed every day in this conflict is aired across the Arab world every night in news footage in a very tendentious way to be sure, in a way that often doesn't show the Palestinian provocation only the Israeli reaction, but it has an enormously corrosive effect on American standing in that part of the world. That's just a fact.

Damn those bastards for refusing to acknowledge our great victory. It's rally screwed us up.

Meanwhile, here's Peter Galbraith on the prospects for a so-called victory in Iraq.

The idea of these two cock-ups in Iraq and Afghanistan ever being called "winners" is delusional. Nobody's ever won a war in Afghanistan and the US presence in Iraq is only exacerbating the problems. There are no winners, only losers. Which is, in fact, the case with every war. If Americans recognized that instead of thinking of them like a Friday night football game (or in Friedman's case, a bad episode of NYPD Blues) maybe we'd have fewer of them.