President Bush and Yahoo!

By: Guest Authors

By: Steve K. Rumsey

A short time ago, my then 11-year-old daughter asked me if she could use AOL Instant Messenger to chat with friends. At the time, my wife and I wanted to steer our daughter clear of that minefield, so I developed a strategy.

I had my own reasons why I didn’t want her, at age 11, to use instant messaging. Many reasons involved child predators and teenagers in general. I didn’t want her to start chatting with someone she didn’t know and might be pretending to be another 11 year old. I didn’t want someone sending her indecent photos or video clips. I had the same fears most parents have about the Internet and their young children. However, when I learned that AOL had a policy of no users under 13, I saw that as my out. I would explain my own legitimate concerns to her first, but would use the AOL policy as my ace in the hole at the bargaining table. I had my sales pitch all laid out. The AOL age policy was my slam-dunk.

The meeting with my daughter went very well. I expected to put that decision off for another 2 years until she was old enough. Unfortunately, within a matter of days, my daughter found out that Yahoo had no such age limitations. I was sunk! My main bargaining chip had gone down in flames. I was mad at myself for not thinking it through better and for not focusing on all the key concerns, instead of putting most the weight of my sales pitch into the AOL age policy. Because the bulk of my pitch was put into the AOL policy, I had trouble backpedaling into my original concerns.

Isn’t this exactly what President Bush did with Iraq? He and his advisers had many legitimate reasons to go into Iraq. At the time, the combined reasons tipped the scale in favor of invasion. Past use of chemical weapons, ignoring UN restrictions, violating no-fly zones, etc. all had a cumulative effect on the President’s decision-making process. However, he and his advisers knew the ultimate reason, the one that would be the easiest sell to the American public, was Saddam’s efforts in developing or acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

Unfortunately for President Bush, that slam dunk justification never materialized. The administration spent so much energy building up the case for an Iraq invasion based on this one reason that, once it became apparent there were no WMDs, it was impossible to backtrack to reasons two, three, four, etc.

This means that President Bush did not lie. Not properly prioritizing reasons for war is not lying. As far as I can see, he made a judgment error in focusing so much attention on WMDs and not enough equal time to the other reasons for going to war.

Personally, I am not a huge fan of the Iraq war decision. Even with the other reasons that were given for going to war, I had a hard time with the justification process. However, I can see how the Bush administration’s strategic miscalculation caused major problems for our country.

It all reminds me of a company I worked for many years ago. When poor decisions were made, we complained about upper management’s incompetence and what we thought were bad decisions (I’m sure this goes on in thousands of companies across the country, probably on a daily basis). However, at some point, most of us made the decision to stop whining and to give our best effort going forward. We wanted to make it work. Some never made that decision and instead were bent on sabotage, gossiping and chronic complaining.

Are we going to be a country that supports our troops and the war effort, whether or not we may personally see it as a bad decision or are we going to actively sabotage the war effort by endless whining, blogging, character assassinating diatribes on the Internet, on bumper stickers, on radio talk shows and cable news programs? I hope for our own sake, we’re the former.

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