Tuesday, December 23, 2008

At what cost?

Listening to president Bush and vice-president Cheney's farewell interviews, an expression kept creeping to the front of my cerebral cortex. Pyrrhic Victory. Pyrrhic Victory. Pyrrhic Victory.

To sum it up in a nutshell, the core of Bush and Cheney's arguments in these interviews was; "we did what we had to do to keep America safe, and to the best of our knowledge it has worked. The proof? No terrorist attacks on American soil in 7.5 years."

Now consider the definition of Pyrrhic victory:

1) A victory that is won by incurring terrible losses - wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn


2) A Pyrrhic victory is a victory with devastating cost to the victor. The phrase is an allusion to King Pyrrhus of Epirus, whose army suffered irreplaceable casualties in defeating the Romans at Heraclea in 280 BC and Asculum in 279 BC during the Pyrrhic War - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrrhic_victory

and again,

3) A very costly victory, wherein the considerable losses outweigh the gain, so as to render the battle unfavourable - en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Pyrrhic_victory

Now returning to Bush and Cheney's arguments. At what cost to American principles and global reputation were 7.5 attack free years achieved? Is America safer in the long-run as a result of Bush and Cheney's policies? A Guantanamo Bay, Patriot Act, Maher Arar (and others), and Abu Ghreib later, how will history judge these two men? What lessons must responsible political leaders and governments around the world draw from the Bush-Cheney years if the same mistakes are not to be repeated?

Either way you twist and turn it, the notion of 'success' in the War on Terror seems to be Pyrrhic at best, and an illusion at worst.

No comments: