Slogans Are Not Strategy
While it has often been said that hope is not a plan, neither is a slogan a strategy. That said, the fact that there is a slogan does not preclude the existence of a strategy, either.
Judd Legum thinks he has caught the administration in a whopper because both White House Counselor Dan Bartlett and President Bush said on the Sunday talk shows that “stay the course” has never been the strategy for fighting the war and that the means to achieving the end has been constantly evolving. Legum provides video evidence that Bush has used the words “stay the course” in reference to Iraq. [Update: Bilmon joins the chorus.]
It is fair to fault the administration and the State, DoD and CENTCOM planners over the years for failing to anticipate foreseeable events, for being too slow to adapt to changes, for being overly optimistic, and myriad other failures. It’s ridiculous, however, to pretend that campaign trail rhetoric represents the total depth of their strategic thinking.
“Stay the course” is bumper sticker shorthand for continuing to work toward accomplishing the mission for which we set out three and a half years ago, in contrast with various withdrawal plans floated by opposition leaders. It does not mean, nor has it ever meant, “continue doing exactly what we’re doing right now without any change.”
Indeed, anyone who has paid attention to the news over the last three years has seen a steady evolution of both the political goals and the means used in an attempt to achieve them.