But the plan also for the first time sets benchmarks—or, as the president preferred to call them, “metrics”—for US involvement in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, suggesting the military engagement is not open-ended and that both the Afghan and Pakistani governments must deliver on particular objectives.
Of course, all statistics suffer from contamination by gathering. Much of the information the Systems Analysis Office obtained was from (largely) Vietnamese officers looking to please the Americans: and as a result, critical decisions were being made thousands of miles away based on numbers produced by intentionally bad data. This is what happens when you expect that foreign players “must deliver on particular objectives.”
McNamara, who lacked any prior military experience but maintained a business information technology background, wrote in his book In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam that this systems analysis method was one of eleven mistakes his group made that eventually tanked popular support, and what could have been clearer success, in the Vietnam War.
Of course, today, we have the hindsight to know that Vietnam may have been a futile effort from the get-go. The fall of Saigon did not result in a domino-chain of Communism spreading to Thailand, Singapore, or India as feared. Lives were wasted for nothing, as the end results were just as bad as doing nothing. Again, that is an easy statement to make in hindsight.
Here is an easy statement to make in foresight: Afghanistan is indeed one of the most dangerous places in the world. We already have seen what happens when it falls into the wrong hands: the fall of South Vietnam did not result in a Tet Offensive fought in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania; the fall of Afghanistan brought foreign death to America for the first time on a shocking scale. Let us be very, very sure—beyond all statistical doubt—that we do not make this mistake again. That is something you can benchmark.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.