I just finished reading an interesting op-ed from Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post that asks a pretty simple question:

Why is the Iraq war different from all other American wars?

The answer, of course, is very far from simple…

In all other US wars, “American soldiers fought the same adversaries from start to finish.”

In Iraq we’re now on our third.

First is was Saddam Hussein’s government and the pro-Hussein, Sunni forces.

Next came al-Qaeda in Iraq – a group that barely existed prior to our invasion. As a Sunni resistance popped up in Iraq to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq, former adversaries were now our allies.

And last week, Gen. David Petraeus testified before Congress that we have a new adversary: Shiite forces being aided by Iran.

What a damn disaster!

I’ll leave you with Meyerson’s closing unedited:

Our war in Iraq, then, is different from all our previous wars because we are occupying a nation at war with itself, where groups take up arms against us because we defend a government to which they’re not reconciled, a government that may itself pose a strategic threat to our interests. In such a nation, we accumulate enemies simply through our ongoing presence.

If our chief concern is, as we now assert, the spread of Iranian influence, what we need is a Sunni-led government, which could not attain or hold power in majority-Shiite Iraq save by force. That is, we need another Saddam Hussein, only this time, one less antagonistic to the United States. But this would be a resolution we could not support, because it would make a mockery of our entire misadventure in Iraq.

And this is the war that John McCain wants to wage until victory is ours. What no one — including McCain, Petraeus, Crocker and Bush — can do is articulate just what such a victory would look like.