What Is In a Word: Obama and the V-Word
One of my favorite heroes of the Second World War was Winston Churchill. Any British school child could tell you that Churchill faced the nearly impossible task of keeping the morale of his people high in a time of great privation. England alone stood against Germany and was rewarded by daily and nightly air raids. Everywhere he went the often grumpy, embattled, and always witty (and not sober) Prime Minister gave hope to his battered and bombed-out people by the mere act of holding up his right hand, palm out, index and middle fingers spread apart signifying a V; a V for Victory. This simple act bespoke a truth that every war-weary Brit knew to his core. Ole Winnie would never, ever, settle for anything less than total Victory over a hated and tyrannical foe. Churchill’s simple act of defiance against the all-powerful field-grey legions of Hitler’s Wehrmacht gave reason for the conquered peoples of Europe to continue the fight against the Nazi invader. Resistance groups across the Continent splashed alley walls and city squares with giant painted Vs. V became more than a letter, it became a promise that one day Europe would once again breathe the fresh air of freedom that an Allied Victory would bring.
Flash forward more than 60 years later. America finds itself at war with a foe just as tyrannical and vile as the Nazis. Like the generation that has been labeled the “greatest,” the youth of today have also sent many of their best and brightest to fight in the wastes of Iraq and the forbidding mountains of Afghanistan. Like our illustrious predecessors, we too have endured death and lamented the loss of many brilliant, beautiful and promising young lives. But unlike the struggle 60 years hence, America is divided in its counsel, and, I dare say, not committed to Victory; an omission that clouds the sacrifice of those who have fallen. Nothing manifests this truly tragic state of affairs than the actions of our putative Commander-in-Chief.
In his speech at West Point, President Obama promised to increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan by 30,000. He spoke at great length of the necessity of increasing the strength of the Afghan Army as well as holding Pakistan accountable for its lapses in judgment where the Taliban is concerned. Obama further outlined his disastrous decision to impose an impossible timeline for withdrawal of said US troops in what can only be considered an abject admission of the US’ lack of interest and commitment toward a successful conclusion to the fight in Afghanistan. Finally, Obama failed to mention, in his 4300 plus words, one: Victory.
Why is Victory important? How is it that a single word can change the entire complexion of a war involving hundreds of thousands? It is quite simple. Victory is a commitment to win. Victory is a covenant to put tyranny in its place. Victory gives comfort to those who have lost their loved ones and validates the ultimate sacrifice that so many willingly undertook. Victory sends a message to our friends and foes alike that we are in the fight to the end and that we will stop at nothing. Anything less is a stab in the back of those in the armed forces fighting, and dying, to bring this war to a successful conclusion.
One marvels at the absurdity of a war-time president that is not committed to Victory. After all, who gets in a fight to lose? No doubt defenders of the President will be quick to point out that he did not get us into Afghanistan, nor did he mismanage the war prior to his election in 2008. What those people fail to realize is that it IS Obama’s responsibility to finish the fight and to secure a successful, and Victorious conclusion. As the Dear One pointed out in his historic run for president, “Afghanistan is a war of necessity.” I would think, by implication, that wars of “necessity” should generally be wars that are won and not cast aside when they become politically inconvenient (say, for example, in late 2011 prior to his re-election bid…).
Can real Victory be achieved in Afghanistan? Certainly “winning” in the Kush is not the signing of a surrender document on the deck of a battleship, nor is it a negotiated armistice in Paris. In the War on Terror there are no armies to crush or a capital to take. As such, we need to s trive for a species of Victory. What we can expect is an Afghanistan where the people are allowed to choose their destinies without the interference of tyrants and where the Taliban and Al Qaeda are broken, discredited and irrelevant entities. Any species of Victory is far more preferable to no Victory at all.
So on one hand we have a leader who despises the word Victory and on the other the man who imposes a ludicrous timeline on a surge to nowhere. Are these the actions of a man, and a government, that is committed to winning? Or are they the actions of a man attempting to placate both the anti-war wing of his party and those who still believe that the US must, by necessity, win this war?
What contempt does history have for those peoples who deign to defend themselves? What disdain will future generations of Americans have for us when they read our chapter in their history books? Those who fight wars to lose, by implication abdicating all responsibility of their own defense, deserve to be relegated to the scrap heap of history.
In the end it boils down to a single word. Some, mostly those who have never sacrificed one iota for this nation, dismiss Obama’s glaring omission by claiming that the word Victory in itself is unimportant, nothing more than a jingoistic expression of the prior imperialistic and chauvinistic administration. I think Winston Churchill and hundreds of millions of free people in Europe, to say nothing of posterity, would humbly and forcefully disagree.