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Iraq Report Card

The estimable Austin Bay has a midstream assessment of the Iraq campaign and occupation. Grades are mixed. Given Mr. Bay’s knowledge of things military and strategic insight (he was a supporter of the Iraqi campaign for hardnosed geopolitical reasons), the mixed grades bear some pondering. Read the whole thing (its not long), but a few excerpts struck my eye:

The number of Free Iraqi police and paramilitary personnel in the field is a rough yardstick, but ultimately Iraqi security is their job. The major U.S. mistake prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom was failing to create a functioning Iraqi constabulary. The United States had 3,000 exiles training in Hungary, but that simply didn’t cut it. Interim coalition grade: D.

The March-April military campaign was a huge success. Saddam’s regime collapsed quickly, with few civilian casualties. The strategic demonstration of American power was dramatic, and it put teeth in the U.N.’s 1991 resolutions. Some day, U.N. sanctions may mean something again. Final Grade: A (No attack from Turkey, so no A+. A northern attack would have swept Tikrit and the Sunni Triangle, conceivably diminishing the current opposition in these Baathist districts.)

International contributions to Iraqi reconstruction, both in number of contributors and total capital is a strategic political measure. Interim Grade: C-

One measure that he does not address is control of Iraq’s borders with neighboring sponsors of terror. Until this occurs, Iraq is not secure. I’m not sure how we are doing on this front, but I read Austin Bay to find out stuff like this!

Interesting, and to my mind somewhat pessimistic, overview of the current situation.

6 comments to Iraq Report Card

  • toolkien

    Where the grades come in lower to me stem from treatment of the conflict as a PR move with muscle instead of reaching War objectives. Every war I’ve read about in detail always has strong political suasion mucking up the process from the start, and in most cases lasts long enough for the military to be allowed to do what it is charged with doing (Viet Nam the exception, it was always politically hamstrung from the start). In this case it didn’t last long enough to ever move out of any such phase.

  • Guy Herbert

    I’m confused by toolkien’s comment.

    Wars happen for political reasons and if they have objects at all they are political objects. What the military is “tasked with”, has to be expressed as a military task. But complaining about “political suasion” as if military activities ought to be independent of (or even, drive) politically determined strategic objectives is Strangelove territory.

    Where the US and allies lose most marks overall in the last couple of years is in letting the Pentagon and intelligence services do their thing out of control. While broad strategy’s been plausible, there hasn’t been sufficient attention paid to whether detailed tactics and methods support or undermine grand-strategy.

  • DFenstrate

    You know, I really hate it when some nitwit group decides to issue ‘grades’ on government or Organization X’s performance.

    It’s the biggest chunk of arrogance I see on a daily basis, and has the absurd presumption that the graders:
    A: Know what the fuck they’re talking about to begin with.
    B: Know more than whom they’re critisizing.

    Really fuckin obnoxious. Argue policies all you want, but this grading shit is dumb.

    Besides that, I don’t really have anything to say on the topic at hand.

  • Verity

    I’ve scrolled six or seven items down and can’t find any thread about the European “constitution” meeting today, so I’m going to elbow my way in here. I’ve just watched the news here (France), and the two countries mentioned by all the commentators as standing up for the rights of their citizens are Poland and Spain.

    Britain, no. Blair continues to charm, if that is not too strong a word, his way through the EU corridors of power, shaking hands, kissing both cheeks, as long as Jacques and Gerhardt have their trousers down.

  • M. Simon

    Victor Davis Hanson says we are winning, militarily and politically.


  • Guy Herbert

    DFenestrate, do you think that people who adopt the grading trope really believe it is somehow objective? The point is surely to say, “This is how well I think this organization is doing” on a broad scale, yet to emphasise the subjectivity and tentativeness of the conclusions. School grades are generally understood to be art rather than science, and by adopting the form, the grader is saying that his conclusions are necessarily tentative, but also–importantly–that he is entitled to an opinion.

    So A. graders do assert they know what they are talking about, but B. (and this goes to toolkien’s point too) it isn’t necessary to be better than the gradee in the chosen field in order to assess, approve or criticise his performance or set out criteria for doing so. Otherwise there would be no teachers, coaches, critics, sport, science or performance.