“I call upon the United States Congress to give General David Petraeus a chance to come back and tell us whether his strategy is working,” said President Bush on 10 July 2007.
Imagine being in General Petraeus’s position. Could you do better?
The answer is that strategy depends on objectives. What are we trying to do?
- Minimize deaths of US troops?
- Minimize deaths of Iraqi civilians?
- Maximize oil exports from Iraq?
- Establish democracy in Iraq?
- Battle Islamic radicals?
- Disengage ASAP?
The problem here is not that the General’s strategy is unsuccessful, but that we have too many objectives – too many ways of measuring success. Given the resources available ($5B/month) it is possible to achieve some but not all objectives.