PHOENIX, March 30, 2016 – Webster’s defines success as “the correct or desired result of an attempt.”
The Obama administration defines success as, well, something else entirely, or so it seems. Administration spokespeople continue to state that the counterterrorism strategy employed by the White House in Yemen remains a success.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest recently explained, “What the United States will do and has done is work to try to support the central government, build up the capacity of local fighters and use our own technological and military capabilities to apply pressure on the extremists there.”
The ever-astute Jen Psaki of the State Department, when asked about the administration’s assertion that the counterterrorism strategy in Yemen is a success, stated, “We stand by that.”
About that central government that Earnest says we try to support – there isn’t one. Yemen’s president, Mansour Hadi, left the country on a boat a few weeks ago. The fact that he didn’t escape on a Malaysian Airlines flight is, I guess, a success – for him.
In case you’re keeping score (and who isn’t?), the scorecard notes there several teams on the field. There are the fighting forces loyal to deposed president Hadi; the Houti rebels, who are fighting against the Hadi loyalists; and, of course, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, whose accomplished terrorists are fighting everybody. And United States diplomats and all other international diplomats have been fleeing the country faster than you and your neighbors when you see a satellite TV salesman canvassing your neighborhood.
Apparently, the Obama administration claims it is successful because Yemen is such a chaotic mess that it simply can’t be a safe haven for terrorists and extremists. Um, except that it seems to be a safe haven only for terrorists and extremists.
Maybe, just maybe, Obama and his crew have looked around and, seeing and grasping the fiasco that is the Obama administration, they have decided to say, “Well, compared to us, Yemen is a success.”
Given the administration’s definition of success, maybe we need to reassess some other “successes” in history.
The Hindenburg took off for its 3,882-mile trip from Frankfurt, Germany, to Lakehurst, N..J., on May 6, 1937. Just prior to docking in Lakehurst the German passenger airship burst into flames. Nevertheless, it had to have been deemed a success by Germany. A German spokesman said, “Hey, for the first 3,881 miles it was a hell of a flight!”
The Titanic sank in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage in 1912. In a press release, the ship’s company duly observed, “The Titanic had avoided every single iceberg up until, well, that last one. We consider that a success.”
Signed in September 1938 by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Germany’s Adolph Hitler, the Munich Agreement gave Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland to Germany. Hitler promised Chamberlain that this little patch of territory was all he really wanted. Chamberlain bought his assurances. Less than a year later, World War II began when Hitler wanted more.
Chamberlain no doubt felt his efforts were still a success, in that when he said “Peace for our time,” he only meant for September 1938. After that, people and countries were on their own. Success!
Custer’s Last Stand
Custer and 265 of his men were killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn in less than an hour. Hey, at least they weren’t bogged down in a protracted conflict that went on for years. The battle ended quickly and, adhering to the Obama philosophy, it’s ending wars that matters, not winning them. Custer, don’t you listen to those naysayers. You’re a success!
The Ford Motor company achieved something rare in American marketing. It produced a product that everybody universally hated. A Ford executive surely stated somewhere, “We don’t look at the Edsel as a failure. To the contrary, we believe we have brought the entire country together in its utter and complete disdain for this automobile. We think that is a success.”
1916 Philadelphia Athletics
The 1916 A’s won 36 games while losing 117, finishing last in the eight-team American League and a mere 40 games behind the Washington Senators, who came in seventh. Starting pitchers Jack Nabors and Tom Sheehan each won one game all season, losing 20 and 16, respectively.
But to owner and manager Connie Mack that team was a success. It showed up and played every game (well, except one). And of pitchers Nabors and Sheehan, they were just victims of bad luck. They certainly pitched well enough to win twice as many games as they did.
These are just a few historical examples of what were once thought to be disasters. Yet, as we can confirm almost daily by observing the Obama administration, nothing succeeds like failure.