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Eyes on the Prize

Wednesday, November 30, 2005, 21:24 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

When I was in college, I had a few setbacks on my way to graduation. Between an unexpected pregnancy that temporarily interrupted my studies and a change of major that rendered several completed courses useless toward my new degree, I finally graduated a year and a half late. But I graduated. I set a goal and achieved it. The fact that it was more difficult and took longer than I had planned didn’t make the goal less worthwhile.

I could have announced after four years that even though I had given it my best shot, it had become obvious that I hadn’t properly planned for college and the obstacles that would come up, so it was time to end my education. Why didn’t I do that? Because my goal wasn’t to end my education by the summer of 1986. My goal was to earn a bachelor’s degree. I’m glad that the people in my life who supported me when I first went to college didn’t try to deter me from that goal by disparaging my efforts as insufficient, criticizing my lack of perfect foresight, or harping incessantly on my mistakes.

Today, two similar schools of thought are clashing about the war in Iraq. The Bush Administration and the military personnel who are actually in Iraq believe that our goal is to complete the mission. As Smash points out, two parts of the mission are complete, a third is nearly complete, and the fourth is underway. But Democratic leaders believe that our goal is now merely to get out of Iraq. They think that 2 years and 8 months—the length of time since the U.S. and partners invaded—is long enough. They have announced that we gave it our best shot, but it has become obvious that we hadn’t properly planned for the war or the obstacles that would come up, so it’s time to leave.

Some of you, I’m sure, are thinking that my analogy is flawed, that Iraq is a much more complex and dangerous undertaking than getting a college education. You would be right in that regard. It took me 5½ years to finish my degree. It’s ridiculous to expect our military and the Iraqi people to finish rebuilding their nation in less than half that time.

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