Carol Platt Liebau: Required Reading

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Required Reading

After reading Frederick Kagan's brilliant evisceration of the fundamentally flawed GAO report, it's abundantly clear that the report should be -- and is being -- taken seriously only by those who (like Harry Reid and the Democratic leadership) are desperate for a reason to argue that the surge isn't working and Iraq is a failure.

It's going to be interesting to watch Democrats work to undermine the progress our splendid troops have made, as they seek desperately to force defeat in the war in order to save their own political skins.


Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

I have read Mr. Kagan's comments and I find them to be far from "brilliant" -- they're full of logical flaws. He starts off by attacking the GAO report for confining itself to the topic assigned to it. Congress wanted specific answers to specific questions and he thinks that the GAO should have considered "the larger issues". What he fails to recognize is that the point of this report was not to render an overall judgement on the merits of Administration policy in Iraq, but to answer a particular set of questions. If Mr. Kagan wishes to bring up additional considerations outside the scope of the GAO report, he's welcome to do so. Castigating the GAO for following its instructions is unfair.

Next, Mr. Kagan plays the old "move the goldposts" game. He argues that the situation has changed since January and that the performance standards adopted way back then are no longer appropriate. Again, this might be true (I don't think it is), but to criticize the GAO report for not moving the goalposts is unfair.

Lastly, he counters the GAO's statements regarding the overall level of violence with his own seat-of-the-pants assessments. Why, you can walk freely in areas that were dangerous a year ago! That may be true, but it doesn't say whether there are other areas that you CAN'T walk around freely in now. More important, the GAO report relies upon actual data on casualties throughout Iraq, which he rejects because officers from the American Army tell him that casualties are down -- even though he doesn't provide any specifics.

This is a deeply flawed piece of propaganda, not a serious analysis of the policy problems we continue to face in Iraq.

Lastly, I'll tweak Ms. Liebau for claiming that Democrats "seek desperately to force defeat in the war in order to save their own political skins." As I pointed out in an earlier comment, the most effective political strategy for the Democrats is to let the Republicans stew in the disaster of Iraq for as long as possible. And in fact, that is precisely what they're doing. They've had a majority in Congress for nine months now; they could have forced cutbacks in the spending had they really wanted to wind this war down. But, golly gee, they just have so many problems working out something, especially with all those nasty Republicans and their obstructionist tactics, that they just can't quite seem to actually stop the war. How unfortunate for them that the war will drag on for another 14 months, generating thousands more US casualties, so that, come November 2008, the Democrats will have to tell the voters that they were the only party trying to stop the carnage, and, but for those dirty Republicans, they would have.

Of course, you're welcome to underestimate your opponent and think that the Democrats are too stupid to realize any of this.

7:09 PM  
Blogger stackja1945 said...

Carol, the Dems can call up, down, and down, up. The MSM will agree and the GOP is branded as defeated. Just repeat the lie. The Big Lie in popular culture.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Earth to Carol said...

Kagan's surge was a last ditch effort to provide security for a political reconciliation. The Suni faction has deserted the government. Those that remain in the Iraqi government are on a month long vacation while American blood is flowing in the streets. The Jones report recommends the entire Iraqi security force be dismissed because it is corrupt and that training them to stand up needs to begin again from square one.

Of course Kagan doesn't like the GAO report because the facts clearly indicates only 3 of 18 goals have been met. Essentially the report proves another plan of Neocon Kagan is a failure.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Chepe said,

"Congress wanted specific answers ..."


Reid, Pelosi, Schumer, & company set the parameters to ensure they got the "specific answers" they wanted.

5:30 AM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Greg, if the questions were rigged to produce biased answers, then we can debate the utility of the questions. Can you nominate a few such questions that you consider to be rigged?

8:41 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

The problem is that the questions asked if the various benchmarks had been COMPLETED, not whether any progress had been made toward completing them or what is the outlook for their completion.

Who in their right mind expects the 18 or so political benchmarks to have been COMPLETED just weeks after the surge was fully operational?

The GAO was given bogus paremeters by Congressional Democrats to force specific results.

This is perfectly aligned with Democratic strategy. Afterall, a major plank in the Democratic platform is to make sure that nothing going on in Iraq could possibly be labelled as a success.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

The problem is that the questions asked if the various benchmarks had been COMPLETED, not whether any progress had been made toward completing them or what is the outlook for their completion.

Three flaws with this statement:

1. The GAO did, in fact, take into account progress towards some of the goals and gave partial credit answers to those questions.

2. You are attempting to insert subjective factors into what has to be as objective as possible. The outlook for the future is a purely subjective issue. You would say that the outlook for the future is bright, and I would say that it's bleak. So, which one of us is right? Can either of us prove it? No, for this kind of work, we want standards that everybody agrees are rigorous and not subject to political bias in either direction.

3. You can complain about these performance standards, but I remind you that they were hammered out in bipartisan negotiations. These were the standards that both sides agreed to, the goal posts that were established as fair and reasonable back in January. Now you want to move the goal posts.

1:31 PM  

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