Wednesday, April 09, 2008

War Games

I have frequently said that war is not a football game, but I can't help but notice that for a significant part of modern history, it has been treated as if it were. Certainly the concepts of a "Declaration of war" and "Terms of Surrender" indicate that there are rules that are abided by even when the game is mortal combat. By definition, terrorists don't abide by the rules. This is why BushCo went to such great lengths to coin and define the term "illegal combatant" to describe why the "normal" rules of war don't apply. Even if we're willing to concede that the existence of Al Qaeda and other groups and their resorting to random violence directed at civilians are reasonable justification to "change the rules" in order to accomodate a new reality, having changed the rules, we now have to live with the results.

One of the first casualties of this rule change is the concept of Victory. Every time we talk of "Winning or Losing" in Iraq or in the larger GWOT, we are still using the old 'football game" model of warfare. In a football game, there is an end state after which the game is over. If the Geneva conventions are to be regarded as "quaint" then certainly any talk of victory should be regarded as delusional.

The Administration (and McCain) can't have it both ways.

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