On Failures

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo makes an interesting analogy to President Bush’s Iraq policy and his insistence upon “stay[ing] the course”–Iraq is a business start-up, and President Bush knows business start-ups. Unfortunately, what Bush knows of business start-ups is how to fail at business start-ups, as Josh explains:

Setting aside the vast costs in human life, national treasure and regional stability, I see President Bush’s adventure as a failed business venture, a start-up that went bad — an analogy that, come to think of it, he could probably relate to.

A failed company can lose money for a very long time before it makes money and becomes a success. It only really fails when the investors decide that the problems aren’t transient but terminal. They decide to stop throwing good money after bad. And then that’s it.

If we look at the matter in those icy terms, that moment of reckoning came at least two years ago, certainly before the 2004 election. By then it was depressingly clear the whole matter was never going to come to a good end. But President Bush got the country to reinvest and the country has kept on doing so since then with some factor of lives, money and time.

An interesting analysis, to say the least. The one place it fails is in the aftermath–a failed business leaves just debts and inventory, while a failed foreign venture leaves dead, wounded, wrecked societies, and on and on. But Josh hits on what likely drives Bush’s thinking, and in those terms it’s worth checking out.

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