Playing not to lose

Is victory still among the options?

I really hate to agree with Andrew Sullivan, but sometimes he just gets it right, is all.

Finally, a description of what the administration itself believes has been the goal in Falluja:

“What we’re trying to do is extricate ourselves from Fallujah,” said a senior U.S. official familiar with U.S. strategy who would speak only on the condition of anonymity. “There’s overwhelming pressure with the Coalition Provisional Authority and the White House to deliver a successful Iraq transition, and Iraq is proving uncooperative.”

So the initial goal of removing the insurgents has been abandoned. Meanwhile, the president says: “My resolve is firm. This is an historic moment. The world watches for weakness in our resolve. They will see no weakness. We will answer every challenge.” So is the president telling the truth or is the anonymous “senior administration official”? Or has the administration official declined to inform the president?

The full Washington Post story is just as discouraging as Sullivan’s snippet implies. I’m all in favor of realistic goal-setting, but when your maximum aspiration is postponing disaster it’s time for a new plan.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com