How to tell if you have won

Sam Smith, January 2002 – There seems to be some confusion these days as to the nature of victory. To further the discourse, here are some handy hints to help figure out whether you’ve won or not:

o If, in the course of battle, you not only damage your enemy but do great harm to yourself, that is not a victory but great harm to yourself.

o If you are content to cause great damage to your opponent without regard to its effect on yourself, that is not a victory but a pathology of the sort also found, say, among suicide bombers.

o If you attack a country without following the rules of the United Nations, that is not a victory but a violation of international law.

o If you leave the place you are liberating filled with dead bodies, unexploded bomblets, and depleted uranium, that is not victory but rotten of you.

o If you destroy your own liberty for the sake of revenge, that is not victory but masochism and should be treated rather than applauded.

o If you don’t see ordinary citizens walking around your capitol building because they are too scared someone is going to blow it up – even after “defeating” the enemy – that is not a victory but a shame.

o If the country you’re bombing has a gross national product equal to less than it would cost to bomb it for two years, you didn’t win much and might have done better using the money in some other way.

o If, despite the fall of Kabul, you are still worried about suitcase nukes, stinger missiles, plane hijackings, anthrax attacks, mass smallpox, and one billion Muslims, that is not victory, but approximately the same problem you had before Kabul fell.

o If you are still scared to visit a big city, fly in a plane or sit in a crowded stadium, you have not won regardless of what happened in Kabul.

o If you have to rely on the honor of John Ashcroft and Richard Cheney rather than on the integrity of the Constitution, that is not victory, but a catastrophe.

o If, in revenge for the deaths of innocent American citizens you kill approximately the same number of innocent  Afghan citizens, that is not victory but either murder or negligent manslaughter.

o If you were unable to decide who the enemy was until after you’ve started fighting, that’s a sign you might have thought about it all a bit more first.

o If two of your biggest ‘evildoers’ – namely bin Laden and Hussein – were in part creations of your own intelligence agencies, getting rid of them is not a victory but a salvage operation that could have been avoided by being right the first time.

o If, thanks to the policies of your government and the enemies it has created, you can longer travel, act, or speak in the manner of free Americans over the past two centuries, that is not a victory but the deepest of tragedies.

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