Selling the Iraq "plan"

Wednesday, November 30, 2005 at 05:45 PM

The ballyhooed "Iraq Plan" was described in the president's speech today at the Naval Academy, and released in writing to the public in several locations on the net. Such as here

Did it change your mind?  Make you feel better about the prospects in Iraq?

For those who have worked in a corporation, did it remind you of anything?  Like a "mission statement," for example?  Or the internal sales plan for a new product?

I won't go into excruciating detail on what bothers me about it--I'm too tired, it would take far too long, and who the hell am I, anyway?.  The short version follows.

First of all, the plan was obviously written with its propaganda value in mind.  Good, positive goals are stated and restated ad nauseum.  Compliments to the troops are liberally sprinkled in, while good terms like democracy and freedom appear frequently.

The vast majority of this new plan has been offered up before, by various members of the administration.  It's current incarnation simply takes on the characteristics of the kind of "Product Plan" that a corporation develops to market a new product.  The Social Security pamphlet produced by the House and Senate Republicans was the same thing.

So we get statements like this:
. Short term, Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces. . Medium term, Iraq is in the lead defeating terrorists and providing its own security, with a fully constitutional government in place, and on its way to achieving its economic potential.
. Longer term, Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terrorism.

It's easy to say that in the safety of your oval office, but describing the abstract goals of your endeavor is a far cry from those goals being realistic.  How many corporate plans have described sales and market penetration goals for 30 days, 90 days, 180 days, and 1 year, only to find that the actual sales at one year are only half of what was projected for the 30 day point?

The document includes at least one major effort at distortion by omission: it defines the enemy in Iraq as consisting of three separate groups, one of which is "rejectionists."  However, when you read over the description of the three groups, the administration has completely omitted any mention or consideration of Iraqis who (a) simply resent being occupied and having a foreign occupier tell them what kind of government they have to employ; (b) Iraqis who now simply want us to leave because they think that our presence is provoking a significant portion of the violence; or (c) Iraqis who now resent the hell out of us for killing, wounding, or torturing their friends and relatives.  It's Pretty convenient to omit them, because it makes it a lot easier to portray our presence there as eventually defeating the enemy. But if part of the enemy is motivated by our presence and our imposition of will, then our continued presence will continue to fuel that segment's resistance.

The plan also leaves out any discussion at all of "mileposts" that would trigger withdrawal of some US forces. For example, no mention of how many Iraqi troops need to be trained to what level to justify withdrawal of X number of US troops.  Milestones would be extremely useful for the public to evaluate our progress as time goes on, and to know whether the administration is sticking to the plan.

And in closing, I would really like to know who responsible for putting in the phrase "If we retreat from Iraq, the terrorists will pursue us and our allies, expanding the fight to the rest of the region and to our own shores."  Not to mention, what evidence there is to support it.