America’s taste for getting into no-win wars with undefinable goals is well-known, although rarely stated as honestly as it was yesterday by State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf. When asked whether the U.S. would “lose” if the U.S. doesn’t insert ground troops into Syria, Harf replied candidly: “I’m not exactly sure what ‘lose’ means.”
To lose, you have to know what it means to win. You have to have a realistic definition of success. You have to have a concrete enemy. But when you’re at battling an ideology, when you’re on a crusade not a war, when you’re making up the mission as you go along, losing is impossible. Perhaps this is the real reason why we don’t want to call this “counter-terrorism operation” a “war.” Wars have winners and losers. In “counterterrorism,” you just drop bombs until you feel safer.
Every proposed goal for this intervention is so meaningless our own government cannot understand it. Destruction of “ISIS” is nothing more than war on a name (that is changing so often the media can’t keep up). War on “radical Islam,” which is what Marco Rubio sees in this fight, is no less void of wins and losses. Secretary of State Hagel’s end-state of a “free Syria” is downright laughable.
We are intervening into a civil war to fight for both sides. Our so-called “moderate” rebel allies are baffled by our behavior. We bomb their friends, while we give them weapons. We are fighting in defense of persecuted Christians, while attempting to destroy their most friendly government in the area. We want an “inclusive government” in Iraq, while picking the Shia side in the civil war.
The Pentagon wants us to be prepared for “years” of conflict because when you are fighting a war you can’t lose, you’re also fighting a war you can’t win.