Thursday, September 06, 2007

Moving the goalposts, GOP style...

The GOP (or, more accurately, Bush fans) have long complained that the left 'moves the goalposts', continually redefining - and raising - the standard by which a program is judged in order to proclaim that Bush's policies are failing.

Well, it seems the Bush crowd is capable of doing the same thing, albeit from the other side: they are lowering the standard by which programs are judged in order to declare a program a success.

To wit: Iraq and the surge. After getting rid of Hussein and eliminating whatever WMDs there were in Iraq, Bush's goals in Iraq were never focused on the number of terrorists that were killed. Success was defined as the Iraqis coming together and living in peace and harmony and serving as a shining example to the rest of the Middle East. Killing terrorists and cutting down on the intramural violence in Iraq is sure nice, but it isn't the reason Bush has kept our troops (dying) in Iraq these years. Bush wants the trophy of a liberal democratic government in Iraq, with Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis all living together as nicely as Whites, Blacks and Asians do in the United States (a bit tongue in cheek here).

The surge was never intended to be an end in of itself. It was merely a component, a part of a bigger - a much bigger - process. And, as with any component of any process, it is critical that the component function; one can't move to Step 2 without having accomplished Step 1.

And while it is okay to celebrate accomplishing interim steps, one must remember that, by itself, accomplishing the interim step is nothing to write home about. And one must always remember that the interim step is only that, an interim step, and not the end result one is aiming to accomplish.

And that is what the Bush kool-aid drinkers are doing. They are focusing solely on the successes of the surge: they're trumpeting the number of dead terrorists, the number of towns that are experiencing some peace and quiet, the number of tribal leaders who have given up (at least for the time being) attacking US forces.

But all of that, as good as it is, isn't enough. It doesn't get Bush the trophy he can affectionately gaze at while he reclines in his easy chair once he is out of office (a day that can't come soon enough).

And by all evidence, Bush ain't going to get that trophy... for the Iraqis are as dysfunctional as they ever have been. And Bush and his (few remaining) fans have moved the goalposts, just as they complain the left has done to them. They focus on the surge and neglect to mention the total lack of progress being made by the Iraqis to get their act together. So our forces can continue to kill terrorists (as they should)... and never get any closer to the day at which they can leave without having to worry about things falling apart as soon as they do.