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Open-Ended Wars

Victor Davis Hanson reacts to Obama’s speech:

Obama warns against “open-ended wars,” as if they are almost animate things. But wars end, not when they reach a rational, previously agreed-upon expiration date, but usually when tough, specific wartime choices are made that lead to victory or end in defeat. One party must decide — for good or bad reasons — that it doesn’t want to fight to win, or simply doesn’t believe it has the resources for victory. To say that “open-ended wars” are undesirable is a banality that offers no guidance for these real-life choices. A better truism is that America should not fight wars it does not intend to win.

This seems to me like an exercise in pretending to not understand what the President was talking about. The essence of the situation in Iraq from 2004–2010 was that our policy was stuck in a recursive loop. We couldn’t leave Iraq because we hadn’t won the war. Winning the war would entail defeating our enemies. Our enemies were the people driving us out of the country. Therefore we could leave Iraq when and only when we succeeded in killing the people who wanted us to leave. It was nuts. It was a recipe for open-ended warfare. It’s coming to an end. That’s a good thing.

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