I haven’t written anything “political” for a while. But this time I couldn’t let it go by. I read a story in the KC Star today that is simply astonishing. If it is accurate, the current administration has been intentionally deceptive about a matter of great importance.
The story, written by Nancy Youssef of McClatchy Newspapers, is that the Bush administration is reporting a decrease in sectarian violence in Iraq as a result of the recent troop increase. Great news, right? They are citing a decline in the number of unidentified bodies dumped in the streets as evidence of this assertion – but they have apparently not been counting victims of car bombings and suicide bombings, which has skewed their numbers to the positive.
There were 323 bombing victims in March, and 365 in April as of the 24th, according to the story. And April, obviously, isn’t over yet.
The current administration has taken hits from smarter people than I with regard to a culture of deception and dishonesty. I don’t want to laundry list that any more than it already has been done. But this time, it sure seems to me that they are just redefining what success means in order to claim that we are achieving it. It is a bizarre, elementary school, “I meant to do that” approach to leadership that leaves me scratching my head in utter confusion. It is positively Orwellian, to insist that there is a decrease in violence when there is an increase. Failure is success! If we just don’t count the bombings, they never happened! Perfect!
President Bush told Charlie Rose, “If the standard of success is no car bombings or suicide bombings, we have just handed those who commit suicide bombings a huge victory.” Which means (I think) that if we count the bombings in our figures, that means we are acknowledging the bombers, and to acknowledge the bombers is to give them power, which we do not want to do. However, I am pretty sure that each of the 688 victims of bombings between May 1 and April 24 and all of their families and friends have acknowledged the bombers, big time. What are we communicating to them when the U.S. conveniently leaves out any mention of their deaths?
I don’t like “stay the course” without knowing that the course is actually getting us somewhere. We could “stay the course” for years and years and end up pretty much right where we are now. Should we “stay the course” even if the course is horrible? Sometimes the response is – “To set a date for pullout is to lose the war.” But there are two gigantic questions that response begs to be asked – 1) What are we doing currently, if not losing the war? and 2) What exactly would winning the war look like? First we thought victory would be deposing Saddam Hussein. Then we thought victory would be finding and destroying WMD. Then we thought victory would be setting up a new government, complete with elections and a constitution. Well, check, N/A, and check, respectively – and yet, no victory.
And no sign of an end to violence any time soon, no matter how we try to make it seem. I know that there is anecdotal evidence of progress in Iraq, which is wonderful. But to paint Iraq with such a rosy glow when the reality is so starkly not rosy is dishonest and deceptive. It is not okay to change the definition of success to match our failure.