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Winning is Not the Only Thing 

The football coach Vince Lombardi is credited with the saying, “Winning is not the most important thing. It is the only thing.” 

Is that now the motto of the United States? The bulk of the current discussion about Iraq is that “We won.” But our military victory was a foregone conclusion – the largest and most sophisticated military force in the world vs. a third-rate army crippled by over ten years of sanctions and bombing. The equivalent of the Yankees vs. a Babe Ruth team. 

But what does “winning” really mean? With war, the game is never really over. Instead the seeds of revenge are planted for the next rematch. 

While most Iraqis are quite happy to see Saddam Hussein gone, they do not want to be controlled by the US. They are well aware of the destruction and loss of life resulting from the recent war. They also remember which country was primarily responsible for the broad economic sanctions, that caused general suffering and actually increased the power of Saddam’s government over their lives. We in this country may wish to see our forces in the most noble light, but neither in Iraq nor in any other country are the US soldiers seen as liberators. They are viewed as a foreign occupation force resulting from an illegal war. It doesn’t look like much of a win to be an occupying force faced with a hostile population. 

And what of the reasons we were given for this war? Where are the weapons of mass destruction? Where is the threat posed by the Iraqi military forces? Where are the links to the attacks of 9/11? And where is Saddam Hussein? What are we left with then - regime change? That’s a pretty fragile hook for a pre-emptive war. Maybe it really was about oil! Or about intimidating foreign and domestic opposition. Carrying out something as destructive as a war for nonexistent or flimsy reasons is not a victory for either good judgment or democracy. 

One thing most of us learn early on in our personal affairs is that “Winning is not the only thing.” Life is about being fair and honest and consistent, and considering the views of others. It is about relationships and about integrity. And from that comes respect and peace of mind. When we violate those principles in our international affairs, that is a defeat - not a victory. 

David E. White – 5/1/03 

The love of liberty is the love of others. The love of power is the love of ourselves. -- William Hazlitt
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( This page was last updated on:  12/07/2004 )