Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Accountability Watch....

It's time to revisit a few choice tidbits from the February 2006 report to Congress on Iraq, as submitted by the Secretary of Defense:

1. "Terrorist attacks have failed to create and spread sectarian conflict." (page 3)

2. "Increasingly robust Iraqi political institutions will provide peaceful means for reconciliation and bridging divides." (page 9)

3. Insurgents have "failed to deter development of the Iraq Security forces" and "failed to damage Iraqi public trust in the Iraq security forces." (page 23)

4. "The overarching term 'insurgency' is less of a useful construct today" because "previous synergy among enemy groups is breaking apart." (page 24)

The above wasn't written in 2003, 2004, or even "last throes" mid-2005. It was written six months ago.

Traditionally, conservatives have favored private sector solutions to public sector problems. In the private sector---at least the accountability-based one I inhabit---anyone associated with a report so myopic (and so manifestly wrong, so soon) would find himself standing in Times Square with a tin cup in his hand and a parrot on his shoulder. The blood and treasure of nations is far more important than the mundane financial world, so the consequences should be at least as serious, yes? Anyone who endorsed that report should be out of a job by now. Donald Rumsfeld submitted it to Congress (and who do you think might have penned the words "the overarching term 'insurgency' is less of a useful construct today"?). I'm not a chronic Rumsfeld basher. But if we still have any interest in pretending to care about accountability as well as averting further disaster, it's long past time for him to go, isn't it?

37 Comments:

Blogger Ahistoricality said...

Is the parrot part of the standard severance package in your field? 'cause I gotta say, that's better than these guys deserve.

8/02/2006 6:07 AM  
Anonymous antonie said...

We the people, the mythical little guys, are the shareholders of this country. In November we will vote. I can only hope, but public opinion is so easily swayed.

In any well-functioning company incompetence is not tolerated. That's the prerogative of the government.

As an aside, I'm less and less impressed by these graduates from famous colleges. Wasn't Rumsfeld at Princeton? I don't understand how an institution like that breeds someone with such tunnel vision.

8/02/2006 7:15 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

That report's a joke. So basically, Rummy's boy (or boys, or girls) who wrote this trash just made a buncha stuff up, and submitted it to Congress, huh?

Unbelievable.

I'm with Antonie: as a nation, it's up to Americans to send a huge message to everyone holding office that the past few years are unacceptable: in terms of foreign policy, in terms of the economy, in terms of the culture of lies & theft, in terms of the general direction of the Republic.

Rumsfeld should've been fired two years ago, but at this point I want him to stay until November. Then maybe the midterms will be so successful we can look to fry far bigger fish the following spring.

I'm not hopeful about this, but that's my take.

8/02/2006 7:25 AM  
Anonymous John B. said...

But you gotta ask yourself why is he, Rumsfeld still there?
After all the manifest fuckups and lies why does he still have his job? Somebody wants him there for a very big reason.

8/02/2006 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But you gotta ask yourself why is he, Rumsfeld still there?

To make Rice look competent, by comparison?
-- sglover

8/02/2006 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Kevin Wohlmut said...

Yet another excellent catch, TCR, this is why I keep reading you -- your fine eye for details which everyone else forgot a month after the report came out.

As you pointed out a few days ago, and other commentators have also said, the President's recent addresses on Iraq still show a profound detachment from reality, as does this report. It's the opposite of the "vision thing" that haunted his father. He has a bright shining vision of the Middle East after he applies Our Lord's Grace and Freedom to it.

Which is not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but in the case of the current Administration [sic], it is a bad thing, because their bright shining vision overwhelms the actual real-world data they need to be paying attention to instead. Rumsfeld is still around because he shares that vision with a few of the key personnel such as Cheney, Rice, and Bush. I suspect that simply firing Rumsfeld will change very little.

8/02/2006 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree on Rumsfeld and on the accountability part. Government by it's very nature runs from accountability - the ballot box is the only form.

The bloody Islamic fascist movement needs to be dealt with aggresively AND competently. We will see if Israel's current actions work. The Islamic fascists mean business and the West needs to get it's act together, get unified, and send Hezbollah, Iranian terrorist elements, Hamas, Al Queda, etc to the martyrdom they crave and so richly deserve.

What American is up to this challenge?

8/02/2006 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yet another excellent catch, TCR, this is why I keep reading you -- your fine eye for details which everyone else forgot a month after the report came out."

-ditto.

8/02/2006 12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the ballot box" ain't what it used to be either.
I no longer believe that elections reflect the "will of the people". Even if the majority thought they were voting for change.
judyo

8/02/2006 1:17 PM  
Anonymous John B. said...

And our vaunted Supreme Court with the late not so great Rehnquist in charge in decision 2000 reminded us that there is no inherent right to have ones vote counted...

8/02/2006 3:40 PM  
Anonymous George said...

What American is up to this challenge?

How 'bout you, anon?

Try this: http://www.goarmy.com/

Let us know how it works out.

8/02/2006 4:36 PM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

Honestly, this thing is off the radar screen with Joe Sixpack. He's wondering a bit about why gas prices refuse to come down but no one he knows hasn't come back from Iraq. This can go on for years and years before he notices.

8/02/2006 5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What American is up to this challenge?

How 'bout you, anon?

Try this: http://www.goarmy.com/

Let us know how it works out."

Exactly. And not to mention the common, and most dubious conflation which would have us believe that Al Quaeda = Hamas = Hezbollah = Iran. This is outrageous and, if it informs policy, extremely dangerous, for the U.S., that is.

8/02/2006 6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and things were nicer at the start...

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/

8/03/2006 6:25 AM  
Blogger TM Lutas said...

I hardly know where to begin. If you actually start looking at the report, you'll come across mentions of a "reporting period" and public law 109-148. This is a report that was mandated by Congress. It is supposed to cover a particular period, not before and not after.

To criticize that the war's changed is to have a conception of war as a straight line. That's never been the case. On any given day, war changes and can change significantly. One day there's a Hiroshima, the next day, there's not. It can be that stark.

But even so, half the points you're criticizing actually hold up. The Iraqi security forces are a great deal better prepared in the 6 month reporting period covered by the report than they had been previously and they are even better prepared today. They're now good enough to handle an entire province in lead and a second province is due to be turned over to full Iraqi control reasonably soon. 1 down, 17 to go.

The synergy and cohesion of the anti-Iraq forces is measurably less than prior to this reporting period and has eroded even further since. Al Queda in Iraq has largely disintegrated with the death of Zarqawi and it's become quite obvious that several components of the other side are making their own deals to come in from the cold. Maliki's peace plan is having an effect.

Since that reporting period, things have gotten worse on the sectarian front. It's the most legitimate beef of the four but is only legitimate if you're looking at this as a crystal ball futurist report instead of a backwards looking "this is what's been going on" effort which seems to be what Congress mandated.

Iraqi political institutions are somewhat opaque to americans so you can make an argument one way or the other that whether they've continued to improve but I think that a good case can be made that they have. They did form a government and Prime Minister Maliki seems a distinct improvement over former PM Jafaari. Maybe after 10 or 20 elections they'll get even better but I'm reasonably happy about how quickly Iraq's political class has climbed the learning curve.

8/03/2006 8:23 AM  
Anonymous ctbill said...

TM Lutas: How do the words ""Increasingly robust Iraqi political institutions will provide peaceful means for reconciliation and bridging divides" cover only a narrow reporting period, as you suggest? What does the word" will" mean to you? The next few days?

8/03/2006 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To TM Lutas:

Rummy? That you?!

8/03/2006 4:26 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

This is one of the best repudiations of that dangerous man in the Pentagon I have yet to read.

8/03/2006 4:28 PM  
Anonymous JM said...

Hey, the law actually sez:

...the Secretary of Defense shall...report to Congress a comprehensive set of performance indicators and measures for progress toward military and political stability in Iraq.

...the report requires, at a minimum, the following:
(1) With respect to stability and security in Iraq, the following:
(A) Key measures of political stability, including the
important political milestones that must be achieved over
the next several years.


Nothing about covering "a particular period, not before and not after." And it does ask information on progress and trends. That's information about the future. I suppose Rummy might have to resort to your "crystal ball" but a competent Secretary of Defense should've been aware of the existing trends and reported on them. God knows enough other people did.

The sectarian violence didn't appear as a bolt from the blue. It's been building for some time. That's true of many of the problems Rumsfeld has failed to deal with in Iraq.

8/03/2006 5:08 PM  
Blogger Azael said...

In the private sector---at least the accountability-based one I inhabit---anyone associated with a report so myopic (and so manifestly wrong, so soon) would find himself standing in Times Square with a tin cup in his hand and a parrot on his shoulder.

I work for a large fortune 500 company. We are currently in the "birth pangs" of a project that has failures quite similar to what we're witnessing "over there". I can tell you that - yes - heads will roll. But they won't be the right heads - those responsible for this mess will still have their jobs and may even be promoted. Considering that this project is a project to fix the last project which failed spectacularly (and this one will fail even more spectacularly), and the same people responsible for the last failure are driving the current failure, I don't see that the private sector is all that different from the public sector.

I do find that there is the occasional company that has its act together and accountability is actually present. But pretty much all my experience in the higher echelons of the corporate world have proven to me that they are every bit as screwed up as the public sector.

Sorry, but I just think it's human nature and it's the rare large business that isn't completely screwed up.

Considering that this administration is filled with MBAs (heck, isn't GW an MBA) and pretty much everyone of the participants is a big proponent of "running government like a business", I think we have seen exactly the results of that. I think we should take them at face value and judge it on the merits of their goals.

This sloughing it off as a by-product of the public sector unaccountability is simply silly. These people are the vanguard of the whole "anti-government" stance. Many of them were big company CEO's. Face it. This is the same kind of corrupt bubble mentality that is omnipresent in private sector as well.


Just ask Ken Lay.

8/03/2006 5:12 PM  
Anonymous antonie said...

To tm lutas:

Too bad Congress didn't ask for the right report. One more reason why Congress needs to change in November to people who will ask the right questions.

To azael:

I'm sorry you work for a bad company. It can be very frustrating. Indeed, G.W. Bush ran a couple of companies, I believe with disastrous results, before he joined the public sector. He was also pretty close to Enron, Cheney to Halliburton, etc.. Not exactly the cream of the crop of U.S. companies. On the other hand, you have Lautenberg, Bloomberg, and Corzine, for whom I do have respect.

8/03/2006 8:03 PM  
Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

Hi there,

Read this article by Gary Brecher on the Lebanese-Israeli war

Powerful stuff

8/03/2006 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why exactly does everyone think that the people running the war don't understand what's going on? Why do they think that they are in denial as opposed to saying what they need to say to keep the facade going? Step back and look at things from that position - that the people in charge will say anything to keep things going on their current track.

Similarly, the Democrats. Instead of lamenting their lack of vision, step back and look at things from the position that the people in charge will say anything to keep their side of the facade going.

Both extremes keep shouting loudly so as to keep everyone distracted and believe in the facade. Most people on both sides believe that the upcoming political contest is vital to our future. Most people in the middle are losing faith in either side.
All this is precisely according to plan.

But who are the people in charge, and what is the plan? Those are the questions to be asked.

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