We hear it all the time. From Bush himself. Or from "moderate" Republican Congresscritters. And also from polls or from Condi Rice, John McCain, talking meatsticks and various wingnuts.
The obvious question though, is: What is "winning" in Iraq?
With moving targets as to why we illegally invaded in the first place, as well as every conceivable tactical mistake, wrong decision or willful actions that led us to this point - a point where there there was a healthy discussion amongst us kossacks as to whether this was more like a civil war or the beginnings of genocide - there is nobody that I know of that can even give a rough description of what "winning" or what "victory" or what "finish the mission" even means.
It can't be disarming Saddam from his WMDs since we all know that (1) none have been found, (2) every expert says he stopped the WMD programs before the illegal invasion, (2) we stopped our own search well over a year ago, and of course, we know that the "facts were being fixed around the policy" and that Wolfowitz himself said that WMD was a reason that everyone could settle on as far as justification for the illegal invasion.
It can't be the fact that Saddam was captured, because if that were the case, we would have been out of Iraq for nearly three years now.
And what about that democratically elected "unity government" in Iraq? Even if we could say that was a goal, we have reports of torture and "detainee abuse" continuing under Iraqi police custody. As for the citizens of Iraq, well that government of theirs isn't doing such a hot job of protecting them from being driven out of their homes. Or how their actions are being accused by our troops of "trying to keep Iraq divided", which most certainly is not "standing up".
Of course, this also ignores basic history with wondrous thoughts of Sunnis and Shiites laying down their divisions and anger towards each other to suddenly come together for "the greater good" (whatever that means to each group), hold hands and sing kumbaya because King George waved his "magic democracy wand" over the region.
How about giving the Iraqi people a better life - you know "winning the hearts and minds"? Well, there is that "small matter" of the Iraqi water and sanitation problems. And the lack of consistent electricity. Not to mention the widespread unemployment or the huge increase in child sickness.
But, even with that, there is still love, right? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. In the past, marriage or romance between Sunnis and Shiites, which was pretty common is now something that not only do people fear doing, but are even breaking up their prior marriages out of fear:
For decades, marriages between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq were as ordinary as the daily call to prayer. But the sectarian warfare gripping the country has created a powerful barrier to Sunni-Shiite romances.
Married couples have filed for divorce rather than face the scorn of their neighbors. Fiances have split up as a result of death threats.
What about the completely laughable (but just as scary) "beacon of democracy to transform the Middle East"? Well, as Josh Marshall pointed out a few years back the opposite was more likely the neocon war criminals plan. Iran is developing a nuclear program. North Korea (albeit not in the "neighborhood") just tested a nuclear weapon. Pakistan (our newest best friend) recently said it would welcome Bin Laden. Afghanistan is now a complete disaster again. Lebanon is a mess. Syria is probably "next" on Bush's list of "countries I'd most like to invade" (after Iran, of course). The list goes on and on and on. And on.
As for Iraq being the "central front in the war on terror" so we don't have to fight them over here, well we all know that Iraq wasn't associated with Al Qaeda, the attacks on 9/11, or a "haven for terrorists and terrorist organizations". That is, until this illegal invasion and occupation made it the training ground that it is. Not just for the attacks in Spain, London, Bali or anywhere else. But also for the Taliban, who are now using similar tactics that Al Qaeda uses, where the Taliban did not use those tactics in the past. And also for any other terrorist-wannabe, whether it be a potential future domestic terrorist or a potential foreign terrorist.
Notice how I left out any reference to oil. Because, even that is a complete disaster, as oil fields are being attacked regularly, the prices are not dropping (other than artificially), and we were never going to control the Iraqi oil fields to begin with.
But with all of the possible (and I am sure that I left a few out) reasons for this ass backwards of an invasion and occupation, and all of the possible ways that one can even roughly define what a "victory" would be, a few things are perfectly clear:
This administration had and still has no clue as to what they are doing, even if chaos is their goal. There is no "course" to stay. There is no "path to democracy". These are not "birth pangs". And with all of the talk about "accepting nothing less than total victory", nobody can even say what "victory" would even look like.
Let alone any attempt at saving face and not making things even worse than they already are. And "face saving" or "not screwing up even more than we already have" is not even a small victory.