Exit, stage right

By Bryan • military, politics • 18 May 2006

Pardon me, but what the fuck is an “exit strategy”?

Esteemed NDP Leader Jack Layton, expressing sorrow at Canadians going above and beyond the call of duty.

What we’ve now seen is two year extension with no exit strategy at the end of it,” he said. “Our party believed that it’s the wrong mission. That the questions have not been answered.

I’ve checked my dictionaries and they have (as they usually do) confirmed my English instincts.

As a verb, exit refers to the act of going out or going away. Noun wise, exits are designated points of departure found in a variety of locations. Few difficulties encountered.

Strategy poses an interesting semantic dilemma as the noun strategy leads to two conclusions. First, the science and art of employing the political, economic, psychological, and military forces of a nation or group of nations to afford the maximum support to adopted policies in peace or war

Second: a careful plan or method employing plans or stratagems toward a goal.

Employed in the first case, exit strategy essentially has no meaning, if support is essentially what one desires. Exit (v.) strategy (n.) : The act of abandoning your plans. He is exiting his strategy for purchasing a house.

Using exit as a noun is a little easier. Exit (n.) strategy (n.) I would argue that this refers to the act of creating a strategy to facilitate your act of exiting or creation of a physical exit.

The Crosby dictionary of Bryan: A buzzword. A favorite used by those against involvement in Afghanistan after failing to develop solid arguments. This pseudo-military substance less phrase has an odd habit of being profoundly effective on the Canadian public, as it instills the idea into them that those using it know what they are talking about.

The funny thing about a strategy, is that it device which allows you to reach a goal. In the case of Afghanistan, I believe that the goals are pretty clear. Increase security levels, allowing reconstruction efforts to continue unhindered. Increase security to allow finished projects and basic human rights to flourish. Increase security to prevent aid workers from being murdered. No one is asking for a paradise, just stability.

Achieving stability is not signing up for a one year college diploma. There is no point A to point B. When your mission parameters for attaining stability change daily, how is it possible to develop a plan for leaving? Exit strategy: read…”we will leave in one year, even if we haven’t completed any of our goals”.

What bothers a lot over the ‘exit strategy’ is I fail to see the importance or even significance of developing one. Why does Canada require an exit strategy from Afghanistan? I surmise that having such an outline would make people at home feel warm and fuzzy inside. For the troops? I don’t know, I don’t feel right speaking for them, but I believe that exit strategies demonstrate a lack of faith in the ability of our military and a lack of support and respect for those putting their lives on the line, and those who have already gave their lives to the other side of the line. “Hey guys, guess what? You are leaving in exactly three months, doesn’t matter if you job isn’t finished”.

Come on Jack, let’s be honest to Canadians and tell them what ‘exit strategy’ really means. Its ok, I don’t think much of you anyway, so if you just tell the truth, you won’t have to worry about losing any more dignity. Every watched Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail, Jack?

“Run away, run away, run away”

What annoys me the most about the exit strategy gang is that they are placing all of their energies into this insignificant issue. There are essential problems with the mission that need to be addressed (heavy lift helicopters for instance, more artillery support, coordination with Afghan forces) yet these people choose to direct their energies over which method is best for abandoning the mission. Walking, running, or skipping. Furthermore, within all of this nonsense I don’t believe I’ve ever read ONCE, a proposed exit strategy developed by the usual suspects. Seriously, if you are going to complain and waste time and efforts debating something like this, lets at least see one of these mythical exit strategies.

*200th entry while in country :)

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One Response

  1. Joel

    Hey Bryan…

    Thought you’d like to know: “Exit Strategy” is a business term, usually to do with the winding down of companies – especially partnerships. It’s usually a stipulation in a partnership or incorporation agreement governing how to deal with unexpected circumstances that cause one or more principal partners or shareholders of the company to “exit”, as it were. I see little application of the term to an occupation of one state by another. Perhaps Layton simply believes that our troops would be of better used elsewhere. Given the chaotic nature of international politics and the law of unintended consequences (which the US knows so well yet refuses to heed), I’d be just as happy to have a monkey throw darts at a chart of various foreign policy actions as I would an elected official.

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