Thursday, February 12, 2004

Failed 'plan' doesn't invalidate goal

Your voice: Maurie Loomans

I look forward each week to reading the column written by Thomas Friedman. I have come to expect thoughtful, careful, reasoned positions from him. Thus, I was surprised and disappointed when I read his latest column ("We need to make greater commitment," Feb. 9). I just did not expect him to recite the tired canard that the Bush administration sent our soldiers into Iraq to remove Saddam "without a plan for the morning after."

How can anyone believe this? There was no doubt that we would win. Obviously, with that in mind, plans were made.

What seems to be the prevailing belief system of the Bush critics is that when plans fail, there were no plans. My suspicion is that those who reason this way have never ventured very far into the sphere of the unknown.

I have been a research scientist for more than 35 years and have learned that to do original research, one has to move into the arena of uncertainty. When one ventures into areas where no one has gone before, failure is the norm. Otherwise, it most likely is not original research.

Once I heard a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry candidly speak about his work. He said that when you start at point A, you have in mind how to get to point Z.

To illustrate, he drew two axes of a graph showing point A and point Z. He then proceeded to put various points all around the diagram and then drew lines that finally arrived at point Z. He identified this as the research path he usually followed. However, he said with a smile, when we write our research paper, we draw a straight line between points A and Z.

Likewise, for me, the jagged pathway has been my most common experience.

If Nobel Prize winners can't accurately predict steps 1, 2 and 3, how do we expect the planners at the State Department to accurately predict steps 1, 2 and 3 in Iraq the "morning after?" Who has walked those paths before? Who can chart a path with no failures? Let them step forward. Are they in the United Nations? How about the wise men of France, Germany and Russia? When did the naysayers of the world become so superior to the visionaries?

In the real world, setbacks, failures, cost and hardship are the paths to truly significant goals. I submit the goal in Iraq is significant and worth the cost.

Maurie Loomans of White Oak, a retired medical research scientist with a Ph.D. in biochemistry, spent his career at Procter & Gamble's Miami Valley Laboratories.

Want your voice to be heard? Send your column or proposed topic to assistant editorial editor Ray Cooklis at rcooklis@enquirer.com; (513) 768-8525.

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