General Peter Pace, outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,offeredsome interesting thoughts on progress in Iraq yesterday:
"If you had zero violence and people were not feeling good about their future, where are you?" said Pace, emphasizing that the sentiment of the Iraqi people is a much better measurement than the number of attacks. "So it's not about levels of violence. It's about progress being made, in fact, in the minds of the Iraqi people, so that they have confidence in their government in the way forward."
Is this the same Pace whounapologetically labeledhomosexual acts "immoral" a few months ago? Our newly unbound hedonist - finally approaching the end of his service under the teetotaling Bush Administration - is only concerned about people "feeling good." And who can blame the guy for wanting to let his hair down after seven years in the on-message-but-horribly-disconnected-from-reality Bush Administration?
According to Pace, "it's not about levels of violence." Okay, if quantifiable metrics don't matter, what should replace them? The perception of progress "in the minds of the Iraqi people," Pace suggests, is the path to the promised land.
You have got to be kidding me. Pace now prefers Iraqis' feelings to real-life, measurable levels of violence? Did he hire anew policy advisoror something?
I know successful counterinsurgency requires winning hearts and minds, but that doesn't mean you ignore the dozens of Iraqis and Americans being killed every day in the streets of Baghdad and the surrounding provinces. Or the terrorist attacks and spectacular car bombings that continue to widen the chasm between Iraq's sects and make political reconciliation - and the emergence of Iraq as a stable political entity capable of providing basic protection to its citizens - less and less likely.
Pace's reaffirmed 100% commitment to mental progress in Iraq as the "way forward" brings to mind the classic quip from the late Rodney Dangerfield inBack to School(1986):
Dr. Phillip Barbay (Paxton Whitehead): “Now, notwithstanding Mr. Melon’s input the next question for us is where to build our factory.”
Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield): “How about Fantasyland?”
The Administration seems intent upon keeping its Iraq policy shop in the same location.