Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Defining Debacle Downwards

Now that the General Accounting Office has reported that only three of 18 benchmarks for progress in Iraq have been achieved, our feckless leader is casting about for ways to make this slow motion trainwreck look like a scheduled stop. Which brings us to the headline in the New York Times that reads, "Bush Shifts Terms for Measuring Progress in Iraq."
WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 — With the Democratic-led Congress poised to measure progress in Iraq by focusing on the central government’s failure to perform, President Bush is proposing a new gauge, by focusing on new American alliances with the tribes and local groups that Washington once feared would tear the country apart.
It's not so much moving the goalposts as shrinking them, to roughly the size of the 18 inch Stonehenge stage set from This Is Spinal Tap.
White House officials say that ever since his January speech, Mr. Bush has been pursuing a dual strategy, pressing for “top down” change from Baghdad as well as “bottom up” change from the provinces.
Maybe there are some local Rotary Clubs that could take a hand in rebuilding the country. Instead of adopt-a-highway, they could start an adopt-a-power-line program, in which local organizations sponsor an hour of electrical service in Baghdad for instance.
Imagine a big city mayor trying to divert attention from a growing murder rate in his city by meeting with a new block watch in one neighborhood or having a picnic with a group of former gangbangers in another. While these may be nice gestures and useful in some small way, the more urgent priority of any mayor in those circumstances is to bring down the homicide rate.
This is what has become of our foreign policy in the 21st century. There was a time when supporters of invading Iraq grandly spoke of a domino effect in which the liberation of Iraq would set in motion a wave of western style democracies springing up throughout the region. Now they get excited when they can identify militia bosses, half ward healers and half gang leaders, who are willing to take our money and pose for pictures with U.S. troops. Our president is defining success down so low you could hardly trip over it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still laughing at the Spinal Tap analogy.

Could it be this administration is still just trying to find the stage?

2:08 AM, September 06, 2007  
Blogger Tom Noyes said...

"Hello Cleveland!"

9:05 AM, September 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Spinal Tap analogy certainly goes a long way to explaining the administration's approach to diplomacy -- armadillos in their pants and all that.

12:48 PM, September 06, 2007  
Blogger Tom Noyes said...

One could spend a week or more making pertinent Spinal Tap jokes about the current administration. One hardly nows where to begin...

10:23 PM, September 06, 2007  

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