The bittersweet taste of defeat

John McCain said, in Tuesday's debate, that he'd bring our troops home with honor and victory, and it seemed strange to me at the time that he put such emphasis on victory.

The American military has been defeated. Yes, stunning as it sounds and contrary to what the institutions we hold so dear would have you believe, in the past, our nation was defeated in war. Vietnam was, for all intents and purposes, a military defeat. It doesn't quite count though, because Vietnam was not a declared war. We've never lost a war, true, and we haven't declared one since World War II. We were beaten in Vietnam, and it was a defeat.

So whence comes this hang-up with victory? Every other nation on Earth has suffered defeat and, somehow, they still exist. England has been defeated; currently the pound sterling is the strongest monetary unit on the planet. China's been defeated (in the Sino-Russo and Sino-Japanese wars) and China's society is booming.

The question that springs immediately to mind is whether "victory" is necessarily that critical. Let us examine the situation in Iraq, as the typical civilian sees it.

The United States has killed the leader of a country that, without tyrannical leadership, has been reduced to sectarian violence that has its roots in a 1500-year-old Muslim debate over the legitimacy of the caliph, the leader of Islam. The U.S. has, in this quagmire, attempted to install democracy, a governmental form that cannot exist in a theistic state such as, say, Iraq, for reasons of secularity. Simply put, atheists make the best democrats.

Further, our only ally in the Middle East (Israel) is under constant threat from Palestine and Iran, Osama bin Laden is at large and the U.S. is several trillion dollars in debt. How much must victory cost?

As the adage says, we've cut off our nose to spite our face. Our economy is, bluntly, in the toilet. Our reputation worldwide is in dire straits. The world economy (due to our economy, the premier in the world, being so weak) is suffering. American soldiers are dying daily in Iraq, recruitment rates have fallen significantly and the Taliban is back in Afghanistan.

This is a personal plea to Sen. John McCain, should he be elected: give up. Please let America take this one as a defeat. Personally, I can't imagine how the honor of American soldiers, who consciously volunteered to fight, could possibly be tarnished by a defeat. They've made the sacrifice already; that sacrifice is enough to warrant the highest honors we can give them. But let's surrender, just this once. Maybe we can give up Iraq, come back to America, heal our wounded and prepare for whatever may come next.

Aaron Davis is a sophomore English major who would prefer not to bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb Iran.