Listening to one Congressman after another speak glowingly of the “progress” they saw on the ground in Iraq as a result of the so-called “surge” – after a day trip to the Green Zone – reminds me of a story I’ve been telling for several years.
Around five years ago a friend of mine, Bob Phillips of “Texas Country Reporter” fame, got a phone call from some out-of-state developers who were planning to build what would become the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center near Dallas in Grapevine, Texas. They asked if they could hire Bob for a half day to give them a “tour of Texas.” After choking for a few minutes to suppress hysterical laughter, Bob explained to them that to see Texas would take a bit more than a half day. It actually took them a week to visit such sights as the Alamo and Riverwalk in San Antonio, the Big Bend area, oil fields, etc. At the end of the week, Bob asked them, “Now what one thing have you observed that will help you design the resort?” and they correctly responded, “The lone star!” The lone star did, in actuality, become the leid-motif of the resort.
It should be noted that Bob largely served as tour guide and let the developers make their own observations (I don’t suggest that Bob didn’t spout considerable Texas history and culture along the way). He arranged the tour just as they requested, though he added a couple of spots that he thought they should see.
This was just research to help build a hotel, not to evaluate a war. It is not only naïve, but criminally ignorant, to suggest that a quick in-and-out daytrip wholly arranged and controlled by the Bush administration and its military enablers, qualifies a politician to make sweeping judgments about the success or non-success of U.S. strategy and tactics in the war in Iraq. And it’s just as silly of the media to repeat them.