Okay, CBS news played an excerpt from Rumsfeld's latest defense of the US's actions in Iraq. In it, he lists the "amazing achievements" we've made there.
1) We conquered the damn place. Yay.
2) There are "hundreds of administrations and public services popping up"
3) There is a new, working government.
4) Officials are in place to help govern, and there is a police and military force consisting of Iraqis numbering in "the thousands." (He fails to mention that they are not in action, but in training. They, as a whole, have not begun any major policing actions.
Before I go into what's wrong with listing these as accomplishments, I want to give an analogy. I'm sure many of you have played the game Sim City. In this computer game, the player takes on the role of Mayor, planning his city in such a way as to attract new people and increase revenue.
The events which occur can be divided into three categories; disasters, (which is not important to my point) what the player can instantly construct, (police stations, roads, etc) and everything that the "unseen entrepenuers" of the city build (houses, banks, churches, gas stations, office buildings).
There is a major difference between what the player can build and what his citizens must be inspired to build. The player can build roads, schools, pipes, etc, at will; these are the things that he can unilaterally build and are form the basic design of the city. If the player does not lay these things out properly, investors will not build and the city will fail, because the player cannot control exactly when a new house or mall is built, or if it remains an empty lot.
What Rumsfeld is calling achievements are the roads and pipes of Sim City. He can start as many administrations, appoint as many people, and dole out as many titles as he wants to, totally regardless of the state of the country. They are not achievments, merely things that any executive can do.
What he has totally failed at is fixing the state of Iraq. The administration has not done nothing that will inspire the growth of any metaphorical churches, malls, or office buildings.
Real achievments, rather, are those things which occur that are beyound his direct control. Were the Iraqi people to expell any terrorists that they found in the country, or work totally and with trust with our government that would be an achievement. All he has done is throw switches and call it improvement.
Real progress would have been to provide basic services to these people within a month of occupying the country. Then, they would see us as heaven-sent beneficiaries (not every one of them, naturally) who have dethroned a dictator, and brought them food, water, jobs, and medical care.
In summary, he can declare as many holidays as he wants, as many victories as he feels is necessary to distract the public, but nothing has been accomplished until the people start themself declaring holidays in honour of themselves and us.
(Coincidentally, the citizens of the Sim City game will periodically hold parades in your honour when you do a great job, and riot or protest when you do very, very badly. Does the latter sound familiar?)