“Never was so much false arithmetic employed on any subject, as that which has been employed to persuade nations that it is their interest to go to war. Were the money which it has cost to gain, at the close of a long war, a little town, or a little territory, the right to cut wood here, or to catch fish there, expended in improving what they already possess, in making roads, opening rivers, building ports, improving the arts, and finding employment for their idle poor, it would render them much stronger, much wealthier and happier. This I hope will be our wisdom.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Man will not be brought up with the savage idea of considering his species as his enemy, because the accident of birth gave the individuals existence in countries distinguished by different names.” – Thomas Paine
John McCain likes to let everyone know that he “supported the surge and the surge worked.” “The surge” refers to increased troop levels in Iraq last year. Large-scale terrorist attacks in Iraq have decreased since the surge began. McCain sees this as a great success, and would like voters to see it the same way. The ploy may work, but if McCain is not out of step with Americans regarding foreign policy goals, he is certainly circumventing logic.
The surge can only be called a success relatively. There are less Americans dying in Iraq now than there were before the surge, but Americans are still dying in Iraq. To apply McCain’s logic to a less heated subject: If trees fell through four of McCain’s homes last winter, but with some landscape alterations, only two homes fell victim to timber this winter, McCain will call this winter’s tree-in-home situation a great success. Relatively, this is true, but anyone with eyes will see idiocy in a man who calls the destruction of his own property a success. While there is success relatively, we are ultimately still talking about failure.
The Iraq War issue boils down to a couple of questions that the American people must ask themselves. First, what is the goal of U.S. foreign policy? If it is national security, then the United States can leave Iraq right away. We know Iraq was never a threat to U.S. national security, nor was it a sponsor of terrorism against the United States. Secondly, what is worth the life of an American soldier? I believe–and I don’t think I’m too presumptuous in saying most Americans would agree–that no American soldier should die in combat unless it is absolutely necessary for the protection of national security. The knowledge that the Iraq War has nothing to do with our national security, along with my belief that soldiers should not die for reasons unrelated to national security, warrant only one logical conclusion: The death of a single American soldier in Iraq is a tremendous foreign policy failure, outweighing any relative “successes” (i.e., the surge) claimed by Cheney, Bush, McCain, Obama, or anyone else.
To say “the surge worked” with any honesty, our foreign policy goals are necessarily something other than our national security (i.e., nation-building, or resource confiscation). However, if national security is our foreign policy goal, and one more American soldier dies in Iraq, the surge was a failure.