George Graham

How Are Americans “Winning” in Iraq? And What Are They Winning?

The headline in our local newspaper was startling: “America is now winning Iraq war.”

Could it be a mistake? Was it a delusional episode on the copy editing desk perhaps? No. The headline was accurate. The story, by not one but two Associated Press reporters, began: “The United States is now winning the war that two years ago seemed lost.”

I couldn’t wait to read this report. It seemed to me that America was no longer at war in Iraq, but was occupying Iraq while various Iraqi factions were fighting each other and opportunistic Al-Qaida operatives were streaming across the border to take advantage of the fact that large numbers of Americans were conveniently assembled where they could get at them. So how could America “win” in that situation?

According to the Associated Press reporters, Americans “are winning” by losing fewer lives than they did previously as Al-Qaida shifts its focus from Iraq to Afghanistan. Of course, Americans are now losing more lives in Afghanistan, so I suppose that means they are “losing” the Afghanistan war.

There are winners and losers in Iraq: One big winner is Iran, which has a lot of influence with the Shia politicians that America put in charge of Iraq. Also in the winning column are the Kurds, who now have some degree of self government, and the Shia elite, who control Iraq and its oil. The losers are the Sunnis, who used to be top dogs when Saddam was in power. And, oh yes, the families of the thousands of American servicemen and women, as well as the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, who were killed and maimed – they’re the biggest losers of all.

The Sunnis, who were in cahoots with Al-Qaida at first, turned against the terrorist group because of atrocities the terrorists unwisely committed against Sunnis. The Sunni opposition discouraged the Al-Qaida operatives to the point where they began to lose interest in Iraq and turn their attention to Afghanistan. The Sunnis also became discouraged and now seem somewhat resigned to domination by the Shia (at least until the Americans leave), so violence has abated in some parts of Iraq.

If that is “winning,” what will America have won? Control of Iraq’s government? Control of Iraq’s oil? Good will and enhanced stature among Middle Eastern nations?

It seems to me that the Iraqi government is chafing at the bit to get rid of the Americans and openly link arms with their pals in Iran. The oil will end up with the global interests who control everybody’s oil. And as for good will, I don’t think anyone, not even Associated Press reporters, would argue that America’s stature in the Arab world has been enhanced by the Iraq adventure.

So what does America get for the billions of dollars spent – and the thousands of lives lost – in Iraq so far?

Maybe they’ll give the U.S. an Iraq War medal at the Olympics.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for