Quick: If I say "go big and long," what's the first thing that pops into your mind? If you answered "the Bush Administration's plan for Iraq," you win.
Clarity of expression reflects clarity of thought. Its absence is equally instructive. Our nation is entrusting the planning of our war effort - one of the gravest responsibilities a citizen can hold - to people like the decision-maker who said this about the Administration's proposed war plan: "If we commit to (it), we have to accept upfront that it might result in the opposite of what we want."
That's a confidence-builder, isn't it?
The person responsible for this observation is an "unnamed official" (there's that media overuse of anonymity again) in the Bush Defense Department. (I'm guessing Cambone, but all we know about this philosopher from the wording used to describe him is that he's a civilian.)
In this article by Thomas Ricks, the official explains that after military planners offered three possible plans for Iraq - "go big," "go long," or "go home" - the Republican geniuses running DoD chose "none of the above."
Do you still think things will get better now that Rumsfeld's gone?
Instead of selecting an option, the civilian Republican leadership created what they describe as a "hybrid" - a highflown word that in this context means "indecisive mishmash from a fuzzy-thinking group that still refuses to accept reality as it is and act accordingly." For its sloppy (I mean, "hybrid") plan, the Administration came up with one they call - and I'm not making this up - "Go Big but Short While Transitioning to Go Long."
The "big and long" terminology hasn't been lifted from Jeff Gannon's "hotmilitarystud.com" website. It just sounds that way.
"Go big" means throwing a lot more troops into Iraq. Nobody knows if it would work. It's moot, anyway, since neither we nor the Iraqis have the troops available. "Go long" means reducing force levels and settling in a protracted, 5-10 year strategy of training and rebuilding. "Go home" means what it says.
So what does "go big but short while transitioning to go long" mean, exactly? If words have any meaning left for this outfit - which is a dubious proposition - it means this: throw a lot more soldiers into the mix now, then reduce troop levels to something slightly lower than they are currently for long-term training objectives.
The Administration will only do this, or course, after "accepting upfront that it might result in the opposite of what we want." (You know - sort of like what's happened up to now.)
Why would it result in the opposite of what we want? Because, as Ricks puts it, the plan
"... could backfire if Iraqis suspect it is really a way for the United States to moonwalk out of Iraq -- that is, to imitate singer Michael Jackson's trademark move of appearing to move forward while actually sliding backward."Still, the Administration wants to proceed with this approach despite the likelihood of it having the wrong effect.
So, in short, our civilian leadership wants to "go big but short while transitioning to go long," while hoping that Iraqis don't see it as a "moonwalk," which would result in "the opposite of what we want" - that, of course, being an unfortunate outcome that we've neverthelesss "accepted upfront."
Come on, Mr. and Mrs. America! Sure, you voted for an end to this war. But admit it: this sounds even better!
The disorganized civilian amateurs currently running the Pentagon haven't learned much from the armed forces, but they've certainly picked up on this old military saying: "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit."
UPDATE: In a post on the same topic Richard Benjamin points out that a majority of Americans want us out of Iraq, but are afraid we might withdraw too precipitously (according to a Newsweek poll). I've said we owe the Iraqi people a workable transition plan for withdrawal, but - under the principle of zero-based warmaking - has anybody come up with one? If so, I haven't seen it.
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