Moving the goal posts
is an expression meaning to change originally established rules or goals to benefit your or your team. This strategy is often taken by a person or party whose efforts have fallen short of making their goal. The easy solution is to move the goal posts, so that an errant attempt might make the goal, or not appear to be an extremely bad miss.
The phrase originates from football, and it's variations. How many sports contests would be altered if somehow the location of the goal posts were magically moved?
U.S. Government officials have spent two days reviewing reports and asking questions of Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. forces in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador Iraq, Ryan Crocker, and this phrase was invoked a number of times. Many U.S. representatives and the public are concerned that the war in Iraq has indefinite goals and timelines. The U.S. bombed Baghdad in March 2003 and since that time millions of Iraqis have fled their country, billions, perhaps trillions of U.S. dollars have been spent on the conflict - some of it unaccounted for, over 3,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed, and many more permanently wounded or crippled. Statistics of Iraqi civilian casualties are unclear. After all this, there is still great instability in Iraq and no end in sight.Raising the bar
is a similar expression to moving the goal posts
, and originates from the high jump event in track and field competition. To raise the bar
normally has a positive connotation; that a person is setting a higher goal to achieve. To match the metaphors, if one were to say, "Go ahead and move the goal posts 10 yards back, and I can still make the kick good," or "Raise the bar 10 centimeters higher, and I can jump over it."
In the case of the military and political goals in Iraq, moving the goal posts seems to have more to do with timelines than space. Yesterday's goal post may have been based upon a promise that the war can be finished by October 2008. Today's goal post is moved to 2009, or maybe further out. This fog of war happens when there is no clear, long term mission strategy at the beginning, so the rules are made up as they go along. There is an expression for this response to a lack of study and planning, and it may have originated in the days of wild west Texas: shooting from the hip
Labels: Petraeus Crocker goalposts iraq surge raisingthebar shootingfromthehip war strategy