Violence may be down in Iraq, and perhaps an argument can even be made that some of the smaller political benchmarks are being met. But what is the clearest picture of the emerging society on the streets of Baghdad for which we are paying so heavily in blood and treasure? Shaun Mullen at Kiko's House points to a rather telling picture.
What does it say about the state of world affairs that when high-ranking U.S. officials visit Iraq they wear flak jackets, there is no advance notice and the trips are rushed and cloaked in secrecy, whereas when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad drops by as he did today his trip and itinerary are announced well in advance and he is greeted with pomp and ceremony?
In the linked post you can see the picture of a smiling Ahmadinejad, dressed in a dapper Armani suit, strolling in the sunlight with Iraqi leaders as a military band plays flourishes in the background. When we, the alleged liberators of the country, send our leaders over to Iraq, they must be snuck in during a total media blackout, dressed in flak jackets, hustled in under cover of darkness and dare not step out into the streets.
Let's assume for the moment that John McCain and the GOP are correct, and that we are somehow "winning" in Iraq. What exactly is our prize going to be when we're declared the victors? Perhaps rather than looking at death tolls, up or down ticks in violence, political benchmarks, etc. we should be looking at the society we are shaping. Is this picture the definition of "victory" for all the lost and shattered lives, the trillions of dollars, and the wrenching anguish to our nation?
It's time to go home, regroup, and go finish the original job we started in Afghanistan.