Michael McBride

Benchmarks, smenchmarks

Next week, before, during, and after General Petraeus’ testimony on the Surge I’ll be glued to the TV hanging on every word from every “military expert” that the MSM can bring to denounce the General and his assessment of the Surge. I’ll make popcorn and throw my foam brick at the TV over and over, until finally, mercifully, the drone of negativism will numb my mind, and I will change channels to something more enlightening, like re-runs of I Love Lucy, Rosie highlights from The View 2006-2007, or the best of Jerry Springer.

My ears will be pained every time I hear the word “benchmark.” “Benchmark” will likely become the most used, and over-used word of 2007 and of the 2008 campaign for President. It is being embraced by the left because they view it as a word that puts the right in a vise, and gives them a ticket to the White House in 2008.

They will spew “benchmarks” from their lips as often as possible in the hopes of painting our efforts in Iraq as futile and wasteful. You will hear it more often than you hear “You are NOT the father,” on the Maury show. It will become the mantra for the anti-war left and it will drive the Democratic Party to take an “out by Christmas” stance on Iraq. It will become the rallying word for quitters and defeatists.

As you can tell I am not high on benchmarks. And for lots of reasons.

Mostly the “benchmarks” we are talking about are artificial goals, laid out by a Congress half a world removed from the situation, that are being pressed against an unspoken timetable, and are expected to meet an overlay of either a constant or identity function graph, where x is time and y is either a constant linear presentation of successes evenly distributed over time, or where increases in all areas are to be achieved at a constant and equal rate over time. Either way, these benchmarks are abject failures in determining what our ultimate success in Iraq will be.

For nothing in nature; nothing with a high number of variables; nothing where more than one human is involved, moves in a straight line along some predictable timetable. Benchmarks are for micro-managers who understand little of the real world.

Benchmarks fail to take into account the vagaries of human activity against the inertia of time and history. They fail miserably to predict, account for, or prove to be the driving force behind the thousands of things that turn out successfully everyday.


Michael McBride

Michael E. McBride retired as a Major from the Marine Corps and blogs at http://www.mysandmen.blogspot.com.

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