Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

You really have to give this sitting US president credit where credit is due: no other president in recent memory has had the ability to rip defeat out of the jaws of victory more often and more consistently than George W. Bush.

How can that be, you ask? Let’s take a stroll down the path of recent events, shall we?

On October 7, 2001, the United States, in what can only be defined as a justified act of self-defense, invaded Afghanistan after suffering the worst attack on American soil in the history of the USA, on September 11, 2001

With its vastly superior military and technological power, it was a certainty that US forces would quickly defeat the Taliban, which harbored Al Qaeda,the terrorist organization headed by Bin Laden, which was responsible for the 9-11 attacks. The Taliban controlled the Afghan government and its people. They were subsequently forced to flee into the rough mountainous terrain of the Afghan countryside where American forces began a systematic hunt for them. For most of the world, which supported the USA with good will and sympathy in its efforts to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice, it was simply a matter of time before Osama, Al Qaeda, and what was left of the Taliban were brought to justice.

We were also going to have the Afghans begin growing profitable crops instead heroine poppies and provide the marketing infrastructure for them to sell their new produce.

Just stay the course, get the job done…

Enter G.W. Bush and his master plan of world peace through force-fed democracy building, American-style. Ol’ G.W. Bush decided that since it was just a matter of time before Osama was swinging at the end of a rope, he would divert US military forces from Afghanistan to Iraq, to get rid of that pesky, WMD-welding Saddam Hussein. After all, Saddam couldn’t stand up to the superior military and technological American forces, and hey, we could have a double bad-guy hanging before Christmas 2003! Oh, yeah, and we’d control tons of oil, too!

Just go in, and then out….

Well, that’s was almost five years ago, but that’s not exactly what happened, is it? Oh, we got Saddam, all right, but

1. We didn’t get Bin Laden;

2. We didn’t get any WMD in Iraq (because there weren’t any);

3. We lost the good will and respect of the rest of the world;

4. We never established a self-sufficient enduring democracy in Iraq;

5. We lost the window of opportunity on Afghan crops and they grow more poppies than ever;

6. We lost most of Afghanistan back to a reconstituted Taliban (many now trained in Iraq):

Meanwhile, after seven years of abject neglect on his part, Bush has suddenly turned his attention to the mid-east peace process. With his approval ratings hovering around 33% for two years in a row, he has decided to get directly involved in the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. This week the US is hosting a peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have renewed pledges to do their very best to achieve a peaceful solution to the troublesome issues between them.

And Bush is going to help by being an official judge of fairness and compliance….

Who among peace-loving people would not wish them, and even G.W. Bush, who today appeared in public with them before the press, every success toward the achievement of lasting peace and prosperity? And, in fact, who would deny G.W. Bush his credit due for hosting this conference in the US, even at this late date?

But some cautious advice and a word to the wise to the good folks directly involved in the negotiations: If you want to maximize your chances for success, hold most of your negotiations where you’re certain ol’ G.W. isn’t directly involved. His track record on such things as future strategic planning isn’t exactly what one would take to the Superbowl.