To Whatever End

Making progress in Iraq.

First of all, let’s assume the senator is right. We are making progress. Toward what end, precisely? Can he tell us? Can any of his friends? What grand benchmark are we progressing toward, what finish line are we coming up on? And progress compared to what?

Let’s assume the senator is right. We are making progress. Is that really something we should be so astonished by that we should ignore the death toll? We have no measurements here, we are wandering in the dark like kids playing hide and seek and these guys just keep saying “You’re getting warmer.”

Let’s assume the senator is right. We are making progress. What tangible benefits have we seen from said progress? There’s been no noticeable drop in terrorist attacks around the world; in fact there’s been a fairly sizeable increase in terrorism since we started thwacking this particular bees’ nest. More than 2,000 Americans are dead, we can’t figure out why (or at the very least our leaders seem unable to agree on the reason and articulate it), guys are still pasting together armored plating for their Humvees and asking their parents to raise money at church raffles for body armor, and our president has approval ratings that would earn him the pity of Herbert Hoover. Even if Iraq was a democratic paradise (and last time I checked, not so much), the question isn’t “are we making progress,” senator.

Conservatives are very good at this, at addressing the point that hasn’t been raised and arguing the topic they want to argue instead of the issue at hand. Progress in Iraq isn’t the question. Cost in lives and treasure versus benefit to our national interest, that’s the question. Addressing in an adult manner serious instabilities in the world versus popping off at whoever we decide to hate this week, that’s a whole hell of a lot closer to the question than “are we making progress in Iraq?”

A.