The Scribe at Prairie Weather points to the latest example of the Bush administration's "move the goalposts" strategy:
The administration is once again moving the goal posts with respect to Iraq. Uh... we aren't that concerned about political stability anymore.Instead, administration officials say they are focusing their immediate efforts on several more limited but achievable goals in the hope of convincing Iraqis, foreign governments and Americans that progress is being made toward the political breakthroughs that the military campaign of the past 10 months was supposed to promote.
What is Bush pressuring the Iraqis for instead? Well, there's money -- "passage of a $48 billion Iraqi budget, something the Iraqis say they are on their way to doing anyway." There's the hoped-for Iraqi request for the UN mandate which will allow the US to stay in Iraq indefinitely. And pulling competent Baathists back into government jobs.There have been signs that American influence over Iraqi politics is dwindling after the recent improvements in security — which remain incomplete, as shown by a deadly bombing Friday in Baghdad. While Bush officials once said they aimed to secure “reconciliation” among Iraq’s deeply divided religious, ethnic and sectarian groups, some officials now refer to their goal as “accommodation.”
Congress has noticed that the original benchmarks set by the administration have not been met, for the most part. Of the latest set of goals, only the reconciliation with the Baathists is anywhere near achievable. Today's New York Times report ends with this probably unintended bit of black humor: "American officials in Baghdad appear to understand the limitations they face and are focusing on pragmatic goals like helping the Iraqi government spend the money in its budget." One gets the feeling that the administration has finally admitted it has competence in only one area, and that's spending money.
Also via Prairie Weather: Different country, same story:
A White House assessment of the war in Afghanistan has concluded that wide-ranging strategic goals that the Bush administration set for 2007 have not been met, even as U.S. and NATO forces have scored significant combat successes against resurgent Taliban fighters, according to U.S. officials.
The evaluation this month by the National Security Council followed an in-depth review in late 2006 that laid out a series of projected improvements for this year, including progress in security, governance and the economy. But the latest assessment concluded that only "the kinetic piece" -- individual battles against Taliban fighters -- has shown substantial progress, while improvements in the other areas continue to lag, a senior administration official said.