September 10, 2007

The Unbearable Irrelevance of Facts

Both the American public and the Iraqi public have had it with US involvement in Iraq and don't believe the surge is working. It isn't just that the US' favorite political solution is unpopular, there's this little problem with there being so many newly dead people in Iraq, often because they were shot or blown up. I know that, to some, it may seem all quaint to be disturbed by outrageous body counts, death, destruction and despair, but it just bothers most people. And by 'to some,' I mean to the two Washington Post staff writers who came over all overawed by Petraeus' long view of the combustion of Iraq:

If Gen. David H. Petraeus has his way, tens of thousands of U.S. troops will be in Iraq for years to come.

... Petraeus and Crocker may well succeed this week in deflecting Democratic demands to bring the troops home sooner rather than later. ...

... Realism, Crocker suggested, means suspending demands that Iraq reach 18 political and security benchmarks that Congress has set for it -- few of which the Iraqis have achieved -- and accepting instead more modest forms of progress.

"Some of the more promising political developments at the national level," Crocker said, "are neither measured in benchmarks nor visible to those far from Baghdad."

The legislation that imposed the benchmarks remains in place, and Bush still owes Congress a report at the end of this week on whether they have been met. But Petraeus and Crocker succeeded to a large extent yesterday in making them irrelevant.

The reporters then found (and I am not making this up) a retired Army colonel to praise ... for the love of Graud and shameless butterflies ... Petraeus' "impressive charts," which were compared to the apparently peerless efforts of McNamara's Pentagon. Take heed, war college attendees, it's by your charts that you will be judged in the court of media opinion. So, pay attention in PowerPoint class. Um ... Booyah!?

I guess when your achievements are both immeasurable and invisible, and when they look a lot to the untutored eye like abject failure, a good chart can render all these technical difficulties irrelevant. You can be praised for having a plain facts approach that rises above partisan questions. That is, as long as you're being judged by reporters and Senators so blithely unconcerned with public opinion and the full extent of the mayhem that clever slide presentations can succeed in making facts irrelevant.

Posted by natasha at September 10, 2007 11:26 PM | Iraq | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |