Most of the coverage I have seen of the Iraq Study Group’s report has concentrated on its recommendations. This is a waste of time. The whole point about the present disaster is that there is no solution. Defeat is now inevitable and — short of a meteorite taking out the White House — it will be nastier than anyone (not Iraqi) can presently imagine. What can still be learned from the report is something about the still scarcely credible arrogance and incompetence of the Pentagon. One passage picked up “here”:http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/2006/12/isg_excerpts_vi.html gives an idea of this:
bq. there are fewer than 10 analysts on the job at the Defense Intelligence Agency who have more than two years’ experience in analyzing the insurgency … In addition, there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq. The standard for recording attacks acts as a filter to keep events out of reports and databases. A murder of an Iraqi is not necessarily counted as an attack. If we cannot determine the source of a sectarian attack, that assault does not make it into the database. A roadside bomb or a rocket or mortar attack that doesn’t hurt U.S. personnel doesn’t count. For example, on one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals.
I’m off into London tonight for my agent’s Christmas party. This time last year, I was talking there with a charming man from Aegis, the mercenary company, who was thoroughly optimistic about the war and the forthcoming elections, and Charles Glass, who pointed out that even in Vietnam, all the elections were held on schedule. Charles said that the only good thing to come out of the war might be a _de facto_ independent and secure Kurdistan, but that we’d see the Americans leave as they did Saigon, with people clinging to the helicopters. On the other hand, he thought this would have no impact on American domestic politics: perhaps there he was being pessimistic. I hope that both men are there tonight.