What Does it Mean to Win?

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


Are we winning the war in Iraq? That was the question a cheeky reporter asked General Richard Myers after the latter told the press that the Iraqi insurgency is carrying out the same number of attacks—50 to 60 a day—as it was a year ago. Donald Rumsfeld decided to field the question, remarking:

The United States and the coalition forces, in my personal view, will not be the thing that will defeat the insurgency. So therefore, winning or losing is not the issue for ‘we,’ in my view, in the traditional, conventional context of using the word ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ in a war. The people that are going to defeat that insurgency are going to be the Iraqis.

What’s that? Shades of grey? Subtleties? Complexities? Who knew that Rumsfeld had it in him? Myers was quick to qualify this refreshingly candid outburst: “I think we are winning, okay? I think we’re definitely winning. I think we’ve been winning for some time.” Rather than kick Rumsfeld for this chink in his absolutist armor, we should welcome the honesty in his comment. In fact, it raises the most important question facing our troops in Iraq—which is that if “we” aren’t the ones who are going to defeat the insurgents, when (and how) are we going to go home and leave it to the Iraqis? Essentially, what does “winning” mean in this new, unconventional context we’re in? Damn that Myers for his intervention. We could have been getting somewhere…

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate