The Ministry of Shadows

Last Five Entries

Gone, But Not Forgotten?
Friday, Jan. 20, 2012

What The Internet Will Look Like Under SOPA
Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012

Fearsgiving Week
Monday, Nov. 21, 2011

Jesus Approves of Waterboarding
Monday, Nov. 14, 2011

Beware of Asteroids
Wednesday, Nov. 09, 2011


FirstGov Portal

Legislative Database

Recommended Reading


Bruce Schneier

James Hudnall

Glenn Greenwald


You Are Dumb

All links are current as of the date of publication. All content created by the author is copyrighted 2005-2010, except where held by the owners/publishers of parent works and/or subject materials. Any infringement of another's work is wholly unintentional. If you see something here that is yours, a polite request for removal or credit will be honored.

Questions Unanswered

Monday, Dec. 18, 2006 11:19 AM

As President Bush spends his holiday season 'listening' before 'deciding' how to find his 'new way forward' in Iraq, it's time once more to ask some basic questions that neither Bush nor his cheerleaders seem to have the answers to.

1. What is the mission?

In business, the mission statement is the raison d'etre. But author Guy Kawasaki offers two important insights � the mission statement should be simple ("Our goal at Bush Co. is x.") and achievable.

I would add to this that it must be tasked to the right people. That is, any goal we pursue in Iraq must be achievable by the military. We asked our soldiers to go in and toss Saddam Hussein's ass out the door. They did that. But now, tasked with everything from rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure to combatting insurgents and religious militias, we're now asking them to do things that are neither simple, are quite possibly impossible to achieve, and shouldn't be on their patch to begin with.

2. How do we measure progress?

The Bush Administration has consistently denounced benchmarks as conceding too much to the enemy. That they create the impression we can be made to leave if things get too difficult.

IMHO, nothing spells out determination like setting a goal, and having your progress be measurable and easily recognized. Let's say the San Francisco 49ers talk a good game in the pre-season, setting their sights on the Super Bowl. When they start racking up wins, we know exactly where they stand. In fact, as the season progresses, necessary wins are easily discerned.

I've commented before on how simply holding elections is relatively meaningless in Iraq. This is not laying the foundations for a stable democracy, as our Founding Fathers did over 230 years ago; all we've done is slap the external appearances of a parliamentary system over a society with significant and serious religious/social inequities. Call it 'separate but equal,' and it becomes apparent that our solution isn't anything of the kind.

I'm not a fan of contingency planning, as I've seen it taken to extremes in business. But we have to have a more cogent strategy than, 'as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.' Because the crucial question is: what happens if they don't stand up? Do we continue to stand there in their stead? Without benchmarks, without consequences, there can be no progress.

3. What resources are needed to complete the job?

This is not a case of going to war with the army you have, as Donald Rumsfeld put it. We've all been in business situations where budget constraints lead to penny-wise and pound-foolish decisions.

But if we're clear on the mission, then we should have a reasonable estimation of what is required to complete it in a timely and palatable manner. Providing troops with necessary body� and vehicle� armor is mandatory, not optional. Sure, we can go with the Rumsfeld Theory and go to war with the army we've got (i.e., improperly armed/equipped), but it follows that if you do so, there are consequences (like increased casualty rates).

And it's the role of our leaders to understand those factors. If you decide that we have to roll into Iraq right-the-fuck-now, that's all well and good. But don't stand there and wring your hands when we start losing soldiers because we took needless risks.

4. Are we prepared for failure?

No one wants to lose. But we failed to adequately plan for the strength and persistence of the insurgency, and blaming al-Qaeda does not change the fact that we went in unprepared for extended operations on 'the central front in the War on Terror.'

In conclusion, given that we've been in Iraq for over three years with no mission, no benchmarks, poor resources, and a leadership that refuses to even consider the possibility of failure � not because of the implications for our national security, but out of fear that their malfeasance and incompetence might be laid bare ��there is no reason to believe that Mr. Bush's deliberations will produce anything new, anything resembling a clear path, or any strategy that will lead us forward.

The Ministry has received 0 comment(s) on this topic.