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Friedman on How to Know When We've Won
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I've been mildly disappointed with the last few of Friedman's articles, but the latest was quite good, detailing objectives we must meet and questions we must answer before considering the war a success.

They are:

1) Occupy Baghdad
2) Kill, capture, or expel Saddam
3) Explain why there is so much Iraqi resistance
4) Preserve the territorial integrity of Iraq
5) Ensure any new Iraqi leader isn't a general, a puppet, or a non-credible exile
6) Ensure that the new Iraqi state is credible to its neighbors

I mostly agree with this list, though I don't think #3 is very important (Friedman himself lists the very obvious and likely explanations), and there's one glaring ommission, which Friedman has continually downplayed on the issue of Iraq: Weapons of Mass Destruction.

I think for this war to appear legitimate to most of the world, we will need to uncover all the dirty shit Iraq has had up its sleeve over the past 12 years (and not just a couple of chemical-tipped Scuds, either). I don't think this will be a problem, but I do think its a vital objective. There are most likely extensive weapons caches and development systems and facilities throughout Iraq, and we will need to throw open the cellar doors to the rest of the world and show them just how egregious the U.N. violations have been.

But back to Friedman's original list, I'd say that #1 and #2 are the clearest actual military objectives, and while the others are important, they are primarily political objectives. I think it's important to keep that distinction in mind. I was just talking to a co-worker, saying that one of the few things that reassures me about this war is that it has clear military objectives (unlike, say, Vietnam). We will know clearly when the military has achieved its primary objectives, and it's when #1 and #2 are accomplished. The military will then shift into a security force, and the rest of the objectives Friedman talks about will be hashed out by people in suits, instead of those toting guns.

And as an electorate, we need to make sure our politicians live up to their promises. If the election were held today, I'd vote for Bush. But if he bungles the reconstruction of Iraq, I may have to cast my vote for the most-unpalatable Democrat or third party candidate. Then again, since I live in Texas, and we still have the idiotic, archaic Electoral College...oh hell, I don't want to get started on that again. But if you're in a swing state, please hold Bush accountable for how he handles the aftermath of this war.

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