What Does it Mean to Win?

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Are we winning the war in Iraq? That was the question a cheeky reporter asked General Richard Myers after the latter told the press that the Iraqi insurgency is carrying out the same number of attacks—50 to 60 a day—as it was a year ago. Donald Rumsfeld decided to field the question, remarking:

The United States and the coalition forces, in my personal view, will not be the thing that will defeat the insurgency. So therefore, winning or losing is not the issue for ‘we,’ in my view, in the traditional, conventional context of using the word ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ in a war. The people that are going to defeat that insurgency are going to be the Iraqis.

What’s that? Shades of grey? Subtleties? Complexities? Who knew that Rumsfeld had it in him? Myers was quick to qualify this refreshingly candid outburst: “I think we are winning, okay? I think we’re definitely winning. I think we’ve been winning for some time.” Rather than kick Rumsfeld for this chink in his absolutist armor, we should welcome the honesty in his comment. In fact, it raises the most important question facing our troops in Iraq—which is that if “we” aren’t the ones who are going to defeat the insurgents, when (and how) are we going to go home and leave it to the Iraqis? Essentially, what does “winning” mean in this new, unconventional context we’re in? Damn that Myers for his intervention. We could have been getting somewhere…

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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