Yesterday at a forum hosted by the Institute for the Study of War on the future of Afghanistan, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) criticized the idea that there might be a negotiated settlement to the war. “Don’t hold your breath until that happens,” he said. Lieberman said that instead, the U.S. will “wear down” the enemy in Afghanistan and eventually it will become like Iraq, which Lieberman called a “success”:
LIEBERMAN: Iraq which we thought we had lost not so long ago, now looks like to me like a success. I’d say, I’d use the word victory because I’m, you know, I’m old fashioned. But victory there means that most of the Iraqis are living free self-sufficient lives. The economy is thriving. They have a cultural life, recreational life.
And they’re defending themselves. But as we see in the paper, extremists, Islamic extremists will continue to blow themselves and other people in Iraq up, and so the victory is not going to be as satisfying as it’s been in other conflicts we’ve been involved in but it is a victory over what could’ve been there and what could’ve been and was actually in Afghanistan not so long ago.
Aside from the fact that using the word “victory” or “winning” is something even Gen. David Petraeus is “loathed” to do when referring to Iraq or Afghanistan, it’s odd that Lieberman would say the U.S. has won, given the grim news that this month has marked the deadliest 30 days for U.S. troops there in three years.
And while the Iraqi economy is growing, that hasn’t translated to rising employment. The unemployment rate there is anywhere from 18-23 percent, with underemployment upwards of 43 percent. But if Iraqis aren’t worrying about jobs, they’re worrying about security too. The Iraqi government reported today that 271 Iraqis were killed this month in hostilities, the highest in months.
But to Lieberman, all this looks like “victory,” which is perhaps why he couched his terminology, saying, “The victory is not going to be as satisfying as it’s been in other conflicts.”