Thursday, November 09, 2006

On a plan for victory

Okay, so in his Wednesday press conference, President George "The W Stands For Bipartisanship" Bush announced that he was disappointed that the Democrats won and that the our enemies shouldn't take comfort just because the Party of "Terrorists Win, America Loses" has taken Congress. Obviously prepared for a term of bipartisan cooperation, Bush also said,
See, if the goal is success, then we can work together. If the goal is, get out now regardless, then that's going to be hard to work together.

or, in English, "It'll be easy to compromise as long as they always want to do what I want."

Bush also said, several times, that he's committed to "victory" in Iraq, that we aren't going to pull out until we "win." Conveniently, the administration's definition of "victory" is just as nebulous as their motivation for going into Iraq in the first place. Just as Bush has never been able to truly define his job as President, he's never really been able to say why we're in Iraq at all, which may lead one to wonder if he even really knows.

I'll admit up front, in case anyone has been misled by my expert grasp of military strategy: I'm not a military strategist. I don't know military campaign from an advertising campaign. Except - wait! That's one thing I do know. It may be the only thing, but I do know advertising campaigns.

ADPR 3110: Never, ever, ever try to go into an advertising campaign without knowing your target market and establishing an explicit plan to reach them effectively. Many execs like the GOST model for account planning: goal, objective, strategy, tactics.

You always, always, always start at the top and work down. Your goal is simply what you want to accomplish. Your objectives are specific, measurable, time-sensitive benchmarks that will ensure your goal is met; you have to know who you're trying to reach, how many of them you're trying to reach, and in what time frame, or else you'll never know when that objective has been met. Strategy is the methods you'll use to meet that objective, and tactics are the specific actions you'll take as part of that strategy.

I can't speak for the guys at the Pentagon, and I certainly can't speak for the guys on the ground, but President Bush hasn't gotten past the G.

Granted, it's a nice goal. "Make peace in Iraq." Or, at least, I think that's his goal; in his presser, he says that "victory" is "a country that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself." Fair enough. So what are his objectives? Reducing the number of insurgency- and civil-war-related civilian deaths by 70 percent by March of 2007? Equipping 250,000 Iraqi police officers to stand up by June 2007 (and that means 250,000 actual, working officers, not just 250,000 guys who put on the uniform, punch their time cards, and then go back home)? Disarming 40 percent of regional militias by the end of December?

Bush doesn't like numbers. He says that numbers and deadlines just tell our enemies what we're doing so that they can plan around it and take a terrorism minibreak until the US is out of the country. But to be suspicious of "Oh, I totally know what I'm doing; I just can't tell you 'cause of the terrorists" brands you as an anti-American terrorist-lover. So instead, we're just given "Victory! Victory! Victory in Iraq!" and expected to believe that the administration knows what that is and how to get there.

Everyone wants to know what the Democrats' plan is for Iraq. I want to know what Bush's plan is for Iraq, and here's how I want to know it: The administration has already shown that they have no problem with putting sensitive information online to let bloggers look at it. Now I want my piece. I want Bush and Rumsfeld and The New Guy and General Abizaid and General Casey and maybe Michael Hayden to get together in a nice, quiet conference room with a bottomless pot of coffee and a bunch of legal pads and pens, and I don't want them coming out until they've got a GOST plan that they can post on the Internet.

I'm not looking for classified information or anything that might put our troops in danger (any more than instructions on how to make sarin gas and an atomic bomb would, at the very least). Particularly where tactics are concerned, I'd be perfectly satisfied to know that the generals in charge knew what steps they needed to take without them actually telling me (and any Internet-equipped terrorist types) knowing what those steps will be. But the Bush administration is using our tax dollars and the authority conferred by our elected representatives to wage a war that kills our sons/daughters/fathers/mothers/neighbors/best friends, and we deserve to know precisely what they're fighting for.

And you know what? It might be an awesome plan. It might be the best plan known to man. It might be the kind of plan that would blow the pumps and pantyhose right off of Nancy Pelosi, making her say, "Wow, this is a great plan. We underestimated you before, because there are truly no plans that could match this plan." And then she would dramatically pick up her own plan, which Congressional Dems had been working on while Bush and pals were in the conference room with the coffee, and fling it with great force into the nearest garbage can, declaring, "There goes a vastly inferior plan."

But first, there needs to be a plan. And not just, "Oh, we're going to make the Shias and the Sunnis stop blowing each other up, and we're going to train up some cops and Army d00ds, aaaand we can probably get some kind of a consensus in Parliament," because that's not a plan. That's a musing scribbled on a cocktail napkin. GOST. Specific, measurable, time-sensitive. And on the Internet. We don't need anyone to pass along any crucial military secrets. But we do deserve to know that our government has thought this through beyond the point of "collect underpants."

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