Victory in Iraq Years Away,
Says Political Scientist Dominic Tierney
by Stacey Kutish
The White House hailed Iraq's recent parliamentary elections as "historic" and a "milestone," and Newsweek featured President George W. Bush on the USS Abraham Lincoln and a "Victory at Last?" headline on a recent cover. But despite these and other proclamations of success in Iraq, victory there is still years away, says Assistant Professor of Political Science Dominic Tierney in the Washington Post.
"In Iraq, victory won't become evident with a surrender document, a key battle or a symbolic moment, like an election, but through a series of incremental gains, much like a war on poverty," says Tierney, co-author of Failing to Win: Perceptions of Victory and Defeat in International Politics (2006). "It would take years of Iraq as a stable ally in the Middle East before we can look back and say it was all worth it."
Today's triumphalism could easily dissipate, Tierney fears, if U.S. casualties jump or violence rises as Iraq puts together a new government. But as the United States struggles with wars abroad and political gridlock at home, even temporary public indifference to Iraq may feel like a strange sort of victory.