Whatever happened to the fearsome Republican phrasemaking A-team? You know, the folks who brought us "the death tax," "clear skies initiative," "defense of marriage." Have they all left the building? Is there nobody left who can do better than "Return on Success"?
The phrase can't help but stir echoes of "Return on Investment." We have made an investment of 3776 dead (3637 since "Mission Accomplished"), 27,848 wounded, (at least 500 with amputations), and a cost surging well past $400 billion. The Bush proposed investment will see us to at least another thousand U.S. dead and a cost mounting toward a trillion dollars. (And that investment, of course, doesn't see us to the end. It leaves us with more troops in Iraq than we had before the surge began.)
What is our return? Well, we got Saddam and Bush got to prance around and parade his package in a flight suit. And I think some Iraqi schools got painted. And there's a market somewhere that U.S. politicians can visit if they are sufficiently well guarded.
Any other returns on our investment? Iraqi deaths number, by the most conservative estimates, about 70,000. By more likely estimates, they are multiple hundred thousands—and a story by Tina Susman in this morning's L.A. Times says the Iraqi toll may pass one million. Dead.
The U.N estimates more than 4 million Iraqis have been forced from their homes, some 2 million are now living in other (mostly Arab) countries. We've fueled worldwide recruiting for al-Qaeda.
And the other day, our poster-boy for "success" in Anbar province, Sheikh Sattar Abu Reesh was blown up near his heavily guarded compound.
Krugman, this morning, notes that Bush political crony and member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Ray Hunt has gone and cut a side deal with the Kurds in Iraq for oil. Talk about insider trading—here's a guy in a position to know and he's betting on the failure of Bush's proclaimed policy of seeking a united Iraq. Over the line, Smokey puts in more plainly: "Bush's pals begin the looting of Iraq."
That's just a partial accounting of our return on investment.
But "return on success" is not a bad choice simply for its echo of "return on investment." It's downright monstrous in its own right. It seems to place the burden of coming home squarely on the shoulders of the soldiers and marines in Iraq. Get the job done and you can come home.
As if the job is theirs to do. As if they had the power to deliver success.
Everyone (but Bush and Cheney) agrees that there is no military solution to Iraq. The only way out is diplomatic and political. But there, we got nothin'.
So, Bush is holding our military force hostage pending a "success" that they cannot influence, a success that he has so far refused to pursue with any vigor, commitment, or competence.
Mickeleh's Take: When Bush lists all the awful things that might happen if we pull out, he comes up with a list that's very close to the things that have happened since we invaded. How about replacing "Return on Success" with "Impeach on Failure"?