Monday, April 17, 2006

Dumb News from Iraq

Bill Crawford has posted another one of his patented "Good News from Iraq" articles (he licensed the patent from Art Chrenkoff, I presume).

I won't do a point-by-point of everything in the article, but some stupid things he says that I notice immediately:

(1) Bad Analogy First, talking about how it's not a big deal that a government has not yet been formed, he says:

For a little perspective, travel back to the States, to the U.S. Senate and watch the immigration debate in the Senate. We've been doing democracy for several centuries now, and we can't get 100 politicians to agree on one issue. Considering we're the pros, we could cut the Iraqis a little slack as they continue to get the feel of this democracy-project thing.

Uh - yes. Taking a while to come to a deal on an issue is just the same as trying to actually, you know, FORM A GOVERNMENT. This is more like if we were not able to choose a speaker of the house than not being able to resolve a particular issue.

(2) Ignoring Bias In order to refute the criticisms of Rumsfeld by retired generals, he quotes a military assistant to Rumsfeld and an officer who just returned from Iraq. To prove that he is not just talking to officers who parrot the Pentagon line, he also refers us to a statement of how well things are going by a marine (as we know, enlisted men are much more independent than officers and feel absolutely free to say what they feel without fear of reprisal). Finally, he refers us to an Iraqi officer.

I don't see how any of this really counteracts the credibility of the generals who criticized Rumsfeld. All of these people are interested parties who have a vested interest in making Iraq seem to be going as well as possible.

It's one thing to claim that a lot of people in Iraq think things are going well. It is one thing to make sure that the interested parties' opinions are heard. It is a whole other thing to portray their words as sufficient rebuttal to criticisms by parties whose interests one would normally think run contrary to their statements (i.e. retired generals not giving the military the benefit of the doubt).

That is all.

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