Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Post Thanksgiving Blog

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving, thank you. We dined with our friends, the gals from Fantasy Bedtime Hour, a local (San Francisco) cable outlet show that shows two women in bed discussing LORD FOUL'S BANE, a fantasy trilogy by Stephen R. Donaldson. You can't see it from where you are, but believe me it is highly amusing.

Anyway, Jen, who is kind of the producer/director of the show, has a chihuahua. Because of this, she was baby-sitting another chihuahua. Because of that, one of the guests decided to bring HER chihuahua to the gathering.

The table was set for 22, all of whom brought pies. There were many pies, and many chihuahuas. What more do you want from Thanksgiving?

In other news....
Late this November, for reasons known only to him and his advisers, President Bush decided to share his administration’s Iraq strategy with the rest of us. Better late than never, I guess. I found it on line. It’s a brief document, roughly 32 pages or so, which kind of disappointed me. I was hoping for a thick, meaty document, full of flow charts, and references to swift responses, laser-like precision, pincer-like attacks, with arrows, and massive troop movements, and quotes from Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, , and Leo Strauss,.

Instead, well, the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq is a Power Point demonstration, really, without the Power Point part. Bullet points. Buttons. It contains phrases like “Failure is not an option.” There’s a phrase I’ve never really understood. I mean, of course, failure isn’t an option. Failure is what happens when you run out of options. Believe me, I’ve been there. Though not on a global scale.

The document also contains this phrase: “This Strategy is Integrated and its Elements are Mutually Reinforcing.” I’m not sure what that means exactly, but it does seem like a phrase more appropriate to selling soft drinks than overcoming an enemy that straps bombs to itself and blows itself up in public places, along with dozens of others.

Then there are these subheds, “The Political Track (Isolate, Engage, Build)” The Economic Track (Restore, Reform, Build). What is with this building block bullshit? What do these people think they’re dealing with? Do they think they’re playing Monopoly? Risk?

The document is crammed with weaselly faux concepts and words like “core assumptions,” “benchmarks,” “tracks,” and “robust.” It concludes with an examination of the “8 strategic pillars.” What is this, a 12-step program?

That our nation’s leaders seem like chipper and insane public relations directors is a little disturbing to me, frankly. And even as the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq was being prepared for our consumption - a document that employs the word “insurgent” numerous times- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Thanksgiving weekend met with reporters, urging them to stop using the word “insurgents.”

“That gives them a greater legitimacy than they seem to merit,” he said, according to Dana Milbank of the Washington Post. Instead he proposed the catchy “Enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government.” You say “tomato,” I say “tomahto.”

Earlier in the week at a press conference with Joint Chef of Staff Chairman General Peter Pace, Rumsfeld was asked about torture by Iraqi authorities. Rumsfeld said that the “United States does not have a responsibility.” General Pace demurred, saying it was the responsibility of United States authorities “…to intervene, to stop it.”

Rumsfeld said, “I don’t think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it’s to report it.”

And there’s our strategy in a nutshell, near as I can tell. Make a report. Put it in a drawer. And then declare, as Rumsfeld did, “The strategy is working, and we should stick to it.”

Who are these people? They can’t even talk to each other. What makes us believe they can talk to us?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the only sane response
to the Strategy for Victory PowerPoint that I've read or heard.

6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you are saying about the Iraq strategy reminds me of what was said in an article I read that I think was written by Ron Suskind. Anyway, it basically quoted a Bush administration official telling journalists, historians, and others 'while you guys study reality we're busy creating our own reality'. I think one of the goals of the Bush admin. is to establish an alternate reality of sorts which they and their mindless (and partisan hack) backers follow and believe. The strategy sounds like an effort to turn the war into quasi-science fiction (just as they've done with so many other things) in order to spin it as positively as possible.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, current EotLIGs are fighting former EotLIGs now, I guess. Can't the EotLIGs just get along?


2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great summary of the report; thanks. I know people who think in PowerPoint, and it's scary to think of them running this wicked business in Iraq. For more on the soft thinking this exposes, check out Edward Tufte's pamphlet called "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint".

10:32 PM  

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