“The Iraq War Has Been Won” – A Grammar Lesson In Past, Present and Future Tense

Senator McCain speaking in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday

credit: Associated Press / CNN.com

It has been widely reported that Senator John McCain, while campaigning in Columbus, Ohio this week, announced that “By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom. The Iraq War has been won.” Talk about irrational exhuberance.

It’s the most curious statement we’ve seen yet about the war in Iraq. We can’t figure out if it is future tense, past tense, both or neither? Is it wishful thinking, a sign that dementia is setting in, or a slightly premature victory speech from the apparent next President of the United States? And if this is victory, what does defeat look like?

Before John Sidney McCain III makes any long term prognostications, he would be well advised to take a look at what George Bush was saying five years ago, in May of 2003. Mr. Bush spoke under a banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished” on the deck of the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (read CNN article). He spoke of having accomplished victory in Iraq. Not only was that claim untrue then, it’s even further from the truth today, five years, a Presidential term, and 4,000 dead Americans later. And George Bush was speaking in the present tense, which one would think gives him an advantage over the Senator from Arizona. If Mr. Bush could be so wrong, why should anyone put much stock in Senator McCain’s predictions about Iraq?

Perhaps what the Senator was really saying was “just give me four years to clean up this mess”. The fact of the matter is that January, 2013 will likely mark the end of McCain’s tenure, Iraq or no Iraq. If you’re reading this blog in 2013, please leave a comment, telling us whether the prediction President McCain made about Iraq back in 2008 was accurate.

Don’t get me wrong… I’ve felt that John McCain is the only viable candidate at this juncture. Unlike the other major candidates, he is the only true American hero, and the only candidate with what we believe is the prerequisite experience required by the office. But after hearing him hallucinate out loud in Columbus, we are starting to have our doubts.

A sidenote: In doing research about Senator McCain for this article, we stumbled across his page on Dickipedia. That’s right, Dickipedia, not Wikipedia. Absolutely hilarious stuff. Very, very funny. ROFL funny. (Not to be confused with ROFLCAT). Now I know why the World Wide Web was invented. We just hope Dickipedia never creates a RoutingByRumor page.

Q: How do you know when you’ve won a war?

A: It will look something like this…

Japan signs formal surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945

This is what winning a war looks like. It has all the trappings of a victory (see more here). Unlike what has happened in Iraq, you have an event that clearly signals to the world that it’s over, and who the winner is. No such luck with Iraq. Indeed, we’re no longer fighting a government over there. Who’s going to sit down at the table to sign a formal declaration of surrender?

More than 4,000 of our troops have died so far, and you can be certain that thousands more will die before we find a way to extricate ourselves from Iraq (see “Faces of the Fallen” at The Washington Post). In the words of The Clash, who asked the question “Should I stay or should I go?“, they concluded that “If I go there will be trouble, and if I stay it will be double“. Ditto for America’s military involvement in Iraq.

Now, to be fair to Senator McCain, what do you expect him to say? Should he promise to pull out of Iraq the day he becomes President? Should he commit to staying indefinitely? There’s no clear exit strategy for Iraq, and we’re not sure that one is possible. It’s a politician’s worst nightmare.

It is debatable whether we’ve accomplished much of anything over there, and Iraq is much more unstable today than before we invaded. We think that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was preferable to what exists over there now, and there are probably many Iraqis that would agree. Does anyone really believe that we will ever be able to claim victory in Iraq?

Most importantly, is America more secure today than it was before we invaded Iraq?

– Routing By Rumor


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Filed under 9/11, Iraq, Life, Military, News, Politics, Routing by Rumor, Terrorism, Uncategorized, War, World War II

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