alien & sedition.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
  Eternal Victory

d. at Lawers, Guns, and Money has more on the right's - specifically, Jonah Goldberg's - increasingly shrill attachment to an abstract idea of "victory."
Proceeding from the false dichotomy that Americans are divided between those who "want the war to be a success" and those who "want the war to be over," Goldberg congratulates the preznit on his insatiable desire to win. [...] And the fact that Bush's plans gang aft agley only makes Goldberg more upset with the Democrats:
He may be deluding himself, and his plan may not work, but he at least has done the nation the courtesy of saying what his position is, despite an antagonistic political establishment and a hostile public. What is maddening is that the Democratic leadership cannot, or will not, clearly tell the American people whether they are the party of "end it" or "win it."
This is beyond pathetic. Goldberg finds such "stubborn emphasis on victory" to be courageous -- "wise," in fact -- and so Bush's desire for victory immunizes him somehow from responsibility for what happens from here onward.
Again, what is at work here looks, to me, like the rapid crystalization of the conservatives' new stab-in-the-back myth.

The fiction called "victory" in this context is something that can be defined in real, if unlikely, terms - "a secure Iraq that defends itself and is an ally in the war on terror" - but can only exist on the far end of a near-infinite regression. We have been driving at "victory" for three and a half years now, and "victory" has only gotten further away. However, as long as we continue to fight in Iraq, we can claim to be pursuing it. Again, this can go on indefinitely. It could continue for a decade, and "victory" might be no closer, but neither would it cease to exist as a concept towards which we are oriented. The right will never - never - be willing to call time, to cut the cord. The Democrats will have to do it.

And thus we have the real function of "victory" - even if the war's supporters cannot or will not admit it yet. "Victory's" primary purpose is to exonerate the right for the failure of the war. It is the war supporters' historical escape mechanism. The "victory" phantasm is a tool for shifting the blame from those who foolishly created the war, and who idiotically supported its indefinite continuation, to those who opposed the war. The Democrats will have to put a stop to the war, because the right never will. And ever after, the war party will be able to point to the still-unsullied - because un-reached, unrealized - "victory," and point out that it was the peace party who turned us away from it.

It would be nice, though perhaps it's expecting too much our our media, if there were a lot more scrutiny of this notion of "victory." In the meantime, the task for progressives is to clearly and loudly describe the formation of the Dolchstosslegende as it happens, the better to strangle it in its cradle.

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