Does the left want the war in Iraq to be lost?
I was laughing to myself even just trying to phrase this topic question properly. war vs. occupation vs. nation building vs. iraqi freedom or whatever. Cut me some slack on my wording and we'll all get along fine.
So here we go. My opinions on my own question:
1. First, as a disclaimer about pacifists. They're not all leftists. I'm not one myself, although I like the concept in principle. I don't know many true pacifists. The ones I know are divided between conservative Christians from pacifist sects and leftists of the 60s-survivor variety (and nouveau hippy variety ofc). Pacifists I think want to see all wars fail, but preferably not be fought at all. I don't think they want the terrorists to win per se either though.
2. Some want the war to fail spectacularly. Extremists (not just islamic) want to see the United States fail and be humbled. Hell, some of the nastier and crazier people (the right doesn't have a lock on either vote :P) probably cheer when they hear of US casualties. That's a bit sick and inhumane, but I've met people like that in my travels so I'm sure they're out there. For people who don't care much about what happens to anyone doing something they deem as bad, the prospect of the US getting their ass handed to them in Iraq appeals as it might just roll back the tendancy towards foreign adventure for a decade or two. Not too much difference than crazy animal rights extremists killing researchers, or crazy pro-lifers bombing clinics and sniping doctors. You can get so INTO your own issue you forget or ignore the humanity of those on the other side.
2.5 Incidently, I do not include conservative islamic fundamentalists in "the left". Some of them are part of anti-war coalitions and organizations, sure, but on almost any other issue they are so far from left positions that they make uneasy allies for the thinking person on the left. On choice, civil rights, separation of church and state, foreign policy and gay rights you won't see islamic fundamentalists hanging out with all us lefties. So yeah, nobody is kicking them out of the peace marchs, but don't try to brand the left with their ideas or behaviour. They ain't us, and they don't claim to be.
3. Many are conflicted. I'd put myself in this category. On one hand, a forced US withdrawal at this point would throw the country into civil war at worst, and another strongman dictatorship at best. It's hard to see that as good for anyone. On the other hand, many on the left feel that a clear-cut victory for the administration in Iraq will be interpreted as proof of worth for the policies and people who ordered the invasion happen in the first place, and might lead to further foreign adventures based on criteria and goals many on the left don't agree with. I think this fear is reducing the less time there is in Bush's presidency and the more of a lame duck he becomes. Many on the left would feel more confident if a Democrat or even a trustworthy Republican like McCain inheirited the last bit of the Iraq issue. Of course the right might not, but there's that polarization of the States again rearing its head.
4. Many on the left want the *stated* goals of the administration to be met. That's not to say they necessary supported the initial invasion, but the *stated* goals of the administration at this time are (probably intentionally) such motherhood issues that one cannot help but hope for their success. Mind you, just because one supports the stated goals doesn't mean one can't be suspicious or apprehensive of the unstated goals....
Oh, and on the list of things the left is suspicious about or looking for?
1. Long term beneficial contracts for US defense contractors and US oil companies. Proof of the VERY common suspicion that the war was about oil, or that key players have been lining their own pockets and the pockets of their friends. Incidently, in Canada even among relatively conservative people the belief about it being a war for oil is very high. Just FYi.
2. Maintenance of restrictive anti-terror laws long after there have been attacks on US soil. Proof that some of the 9-11 response was to empower the federal government to oppress the people or to stifle dissent.
3. A draft, or policies on stop-lossing that force people to fight the war. Obviously I think the draft is a great idea regardless, but that is one of the few ways in which I am totally out of touch with most of "the left" :P
4. The war being used as an excuse to implement policies the right already wanted to do but couldn't sell to the general public. Drilling oil in wilderness for example, or moving even further away from engagement with the UN.
I can't really give you any kind of argument on your classifications of those on the left, and whether they wnat us to "lose." I will say that the anti-war movement takes it on faith that their efforts caused us to "lose" the war in Vietnam, and they widely count that a great victory for their cause.
Think about that for a minute, and dwell on the aftermath that followed. The fall of South Vietnam and the consolidation of North and South under Communism. Political reeducation, and the spectre of millions of Vietnamese risking their lives to escape. Pol Pot and genocide in Cambodia. Emboldening of North Korea. A demoralized and diminished US military that retreated from its obligations and security protections for a generation until Reagan and a reenvigorated Cold War against communism. Arguably, Vietnam was our Afghanistan (right, flip that comparison around for a moment), and distracted us and enabled the USSR to dodder on for another decade and a half.
So forgive us if we are a little skeptical about acknowledging any on the left (you conflicted middle roaders notwithstanding) actually will be pleased with a positive outcome, that will diminish their ability to exploit events for political advantage.
And those things the left is suspicious about or looking for?
Gosh, if there wwas evidence of any of this, I'd be nervous too.
1. Long term contracts
This is an unfortunate by-product of modern war. Many tasks are outsourced, capability is held in reserve (unpaid for) until needed, then called into service. It's more expensive, but the rationale is that it saves money long term. I don't necessarily buy that, but as a Consultant in my civilian life, I make my living off of such arrangements! I am somewhat uncomfortable with the large role played by KBR, but I do know they are the biggest, best, and most capable firm wiht global and immediate reach necessary to be called in for these kinds of jobs. People who have been there and are willign to risk their lives for money. Once I'm retired, you wouldn't catch me taking that kind fo job, but I admore those who do, and don't begrudge them their just compensation.
2. Maintenance of restrictive anti-terror laws
This is the big hallucination. The Patriot Act enacted some minor enhancements and eased soem evidenciary rules, without eliminating the need for review by a judge, warrants, habeus corpus, etc. Library or information access provisions have never been utilized. Anti-corruption and RICO statutes are far more intrusive and exapnsive of police powers, and those go unremarked on.
Some muslim aid organizations funnel donations and money launder for active terrorist groups, far more blatantly than IRA supporters in the US. (Anyone who has spent any time in an American Irish Pub will know what I'm talking about.) These are the organizations who are crying violation of civil liberties, and they drip the blood of innocents up to their elbows.
3. A draft or stop-loss
Not yet necessary, may not be needed at all. Military leaders don't want to have to deal with the difficulties of coerced or unwilling recruits. Media balance would go a long way in this regard. The vast majorioty of soldiers will never be in harm's way (even in Iraq). There's still risk of course, and danger, but many who might serve have a distorted (media) perspective on the real situation.
4. The war used as an excuse
No less than the Left using the war as an excuse to attack the Republican Party or score short term gain. Both sides can do a better job of making common cause on issues of National Security, but there can be no serious argument that says the Democrats in our country have any serious policy (foreign or otherwise) alternatives to this administration. The administration is suffering its worst reaction yet from conservatives, many of whom are gravely concerned and disappointed over exapnsion of Big Government or straying from other conversative priorities.