There is a saying in Sports, most especially in college sports, that “it is not how you win that is important, it is how you play the game.” Sports is supposed to teach sportsmanship, the idea of being fair, having respect for one’s opponent, and being gracious in winning or losing. The idea is that one can carry these lessons into life, being fair to ones competitors, having respect for those who work for you, and for whom you are working against, and being gracious, if you win or lose in life. I doubt if anyone would argue that this is not a wonderful ideal for everyone to follow.
Sadly, though, if one looks closely, winning like a scoundrel is very often far more lucrative than losing like a gentleman. The winner of a sporting event is invariably remembered, no matter how he or she won…while the loser is, more likely than not, forgotten, no matter how gentlemanly the loser played the game. In sports, as in life, winning is, in fact, everything. Losing accounts for very little.
Life, is not a sporting event. In sports, if you lose, you have another game ahead of you where you can make up for that loss. In life, a loss very often has a very serious effect on your ability to compete. In fact, more often than we like to think, in life, losing means being put out of the game, permanently.
In the 1920′s, in response to the horrors of gas warfare during WWI. In this document, a listing of what practices were to be allowed in war, and what practices were not to be ‘allowed.’ All nations signing the Geneva Convention agreed to follow these practices.
The idea is that two nations engaged in a conflict will follow these guidelines, so that war would not be so horrible as to affect the ability of either nation to survive afterwards. A convention, though, is an agreement between two parties…and there is an implication involved in a convention that if one party does not follow the convention, then the convention no longer exists. If one party commits atrocities, that leaves it open for the other party to commit similar, if not worse, atrocities. This is the only reason why the Geneva Conventions work; no nation wants to commit an act that can be committed back. If one nation uses nuclear weapons, there is an implication that the opposing nation can and will do the same.
The United States is a signatory of the Geneva Conventions, and we have been as strict as any other nation in following them. Unfortunately, though,. we have allowed ourselves to get bogged down in discussions of whether or not forcing prisoners to wear panties on their head is considered torture…or whether making a prisoner uncomfortable is considered to be torture. Those who suggest that anything which makes a prisoner feel uncomfortable is, in fact, torture, make the argument that we are a ‘civilized society’ and thus are above torturing people for any reason whatsoever. We are too good for that.
This is a ridiculous notion, for the reasons given above. War is not a sporting event. War is a struggle between two peoples whose purpose is to determine which people will survive. One should not go into a war if survival is not the stakes for which one is fighting…and if one determines that survival is, in fact, the stakes involved, one should never fight that war in any way other than in a manner that leads to winning that war. Fighting in any other manner is tantamount to suicide. Losing is not an option.
The lesson that history teaches us is that the winners of a conflict get to write the history books. Do we know anything about the Carthaginians, besides the fact that they had a debased culture, were devious and, ultimately, incapable? Of course not..because the Romans wrote the history of the Punic Wars. The Carthaginians were probably very honorable people, in their own eyes, perhaps more honorable than the Romans…but we shall never know, because the Carthaginians lost their war, and are gone from history.
We face the same fate, because we are divided about whether or not we have the will to win. Many of us, through ignorance, hubris or venality, are doing their best to put obstacles in the way of our winning this war we are fighting. In fact, I suggest that even the ignorant and venal are suffering from hubris, because they do not feel they can be and will be hurt if we lose.
I am not arguing against dissent; we need dissent. We are not perfect, and we need to allow both sides of every issue to be aired, so we can make the proper decisions.
However, the case has not been made, after, five years that we were wrong to go into Iraq, despite the vocal maunderings of Hollywood and the Liberal Press. The American people believe in this war, as they did at the beginning.
What they are missing is a voice, a booster who will advocate for the winning of this war in a positive manner, and who will stand up for winning this war. The American people are missing a leader who will tell us that he believes in what he is doing, and will do what he has to do to win this war…whatever we have to do, because he understands that losing is not an option.
While the President has stated time and time again that losing is not an option, he has lost the trust the American people placed in him to win at all costs. The people do not believe him, anymore, and the American people are not willing to send their sons and daughters into a useless war that has no purpose. I believe he is finally on a winning course, of course, and the war is pretty much over…but the President deserves little credit for this. He flinched when the going got tough. People died because of that.
Keep this in mind when voting in 2008. We have an enemy out there. Is the person to whom you are going to give your most sacred societal possession, your vote, the type of person who is willing to do whatever is necessary to beat that enemy? Or, are they going, instead, when the going gets tough, to choose to ‘stay the course,’ instead of going in for the kill. In the moment of truth…will he or she flinch?