Monday, September 27, 2004

a new week, a new metaphor

reading this thoroughly pessimistic viewpoint about the state of affairs in iraq forced some serious reflection. my colleague the Blaster and i hold somewhat different outlooks on the potential for rescuing this situation from unlimited disaster - neither of us are optimistic, but i maintain a glimmer of tiny, most likely delusional, hope.

that glimmer can be best explained by indulging president bush in a metaphor of his own choosing. bush has frequently been described as a 'CEO' president. leader, visionary, pointing directions without micromanaging steps. fine.

what's gone on in iraq reminds me of an enormous company after it's successful CEO steps down and hands over the reins. for whatever reason, new CEO bush took a significant portion of USA Inc.'s limited capital resources, and invested it in a little venture called 'Iraq Amalgamated'. Iraq Amalgamated has been a poorly run operation for some time, limping along helping noone. bush tried to make a quick buck, pumping in some capital and hoping Iraq Amalg. would get back on its fbet.

But here we are, one year later, and not only is our investment tanking, it's bleeding the parent company severely. Iraq Amalgamated is showing little if any potential for profit (in this metaphor, democracy is profit, eh ?) or generating enough revenue even to break even (stability ?). this investment is going from bad to worse quickly, and the shareholders (taxpayers) are getting screwed financially (deficit) and by the opportunity cost of investing in Iraq rather than smaller, high-growth companies like 'Finding Osama Inc.'

the current state of affairs begs a simple question. can continued American investment in this company turn it revenue positive ? And if so, are the American people (and their leaders) willing to MAKE the investment at the level necessary to do it ? i, for one, think that Iraq Amalgamated can be turned into a mildly profitable operation. Break it into three divisions and pump serious volumes of capital into the business. but my confidence in that notion is brittle at best.

what i'm certain of is that our current level of investment will never, quite honestly never, show positive returns. what we're doing now is throwing just enough money into Iraq's Amalgamated's coffers so it can keep writing paychecks and making promises - every day the crater left by the company's eventual collapse gets larger.

i don't know if CEO kerry is ready to ask america to make the investment it's going to require. and if he does, i dont know if congress or the american people will respond. but i do know that CEO bush hasn't and never will. and that alone is enough to ensure he's negotiating a severance package in november.

- LH

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