Sunday, September 9, 2007

No Country Left Behind

"We will set high standards and hold people accountable" is the basis for the President's education policies. Yet, this doesn't transfer to foreign policy in the case of Iraq. For four years President Bush touted the "progress" being made in spreading freedom to the Middle East. Recently released reports characterize performance on key Iraqi benchmarks as mostly "failure to achieve".

One U.S. official drew the football analogy, "We are, in short, a long way from the goal line, but we do have the ball and we are driving down the field." The problem in football is enough progress has to be made to keep the drive going, otherwise a team has to punt. That forward movement is in question.

President Bush cites "slight progress", accomplished mainly by redefining the measure or dropping it altogether. If this were a classroom, the pupil went from a 50 to a 55. Despite slight improvement, the student continues to fail. Therefore the school should get more $50 billion more in resources to help this "student" in need. The logic pushed by Bush advisors is "we must hold the gains". To change course would place the 55 in peril.

But that's not the way No Child Left Behind works. Schools are punished for failing to meet high standards. Why is Iraq different? I'm sure Ari Fleischer's Freedom's Watch will explain this in one of their commercials. But is he believable? There is a track record:

“[T]here’s no question that if force is used, it will achieve the objective of preserving the peace far faster than the current path that we’re on.” [2/14/03]

“[G]iven the chance to throw off a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein, people will rejoice.” [3/21/03]

“[W]hen you take a look at the level of violence inside of Iraq, it is impossible to argue anything other than violence has, indeed, come down as a result of America’s military operations.” [6/25/03]

“My point is, the likelihood is much more like Afghanistan, where the people who live right now under a brutal dictator will view America as liberators, not conquerors.” [10/11/02]

“There have been contacts between senior members of — senior Iraqi officials and members of the al Qaeda organization, going back for quite a long time. … Iraq provided some training to al Qaeda in chemical weapons development. There are contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda.” [1/27/03]

“There is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly. … And all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes.” [3/21/03]

“The fact of the matter is, one of the reasons the Iraqi people are supportive of the efforts we’ve had there is because of the effort that’s been done in the reconstruction phase.” [7/1/03]

“I think that if you look at the Iraqi people, the Iraqi people are overwhelmingly pleased with the fact the United States has helped them to get rid of the Saddam Hussein regime. That was clear from their dancing in the streets, from the way they tore down the statues. And I think that is the viewpoint of the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people.” [7/1/03]

“[N]o, I don’t think there’s any chance of losing the peace, but it is going to be a battle to continue to win the peace.” [5/19/03]

Stay tuned for more Ari. Speaking of which, can someone open the window? Something smells