The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Iraq Index

In March, 2006 the Brookings Institution, a left-of-center think tank that produces thoughtful analyses on a variety of domestic and international issues, began producing the Iraq Index. Brookings describes the index (actually a reasonably lengthy report) in the following manner:
The Iraq Index is a statistical compilation of economic, public opinion, and security data. This resource will provide updated information on various criteria, including crime, telephone and water service, troop fatalities, unemployment, Iraqi security forces, oil production, and coalition troop strength.

The index is designed to quantify the rebuilding efforts and offer an objective set of criteria for benchmarking performance. It is the first in-depth, non-partisan assessment of American efforts in Iraq, and is based primarily on U.S. government information. Although measurements of progress in any nation-building effort can never be reduced to purely quantitative data, a comprehensive compilation of such information can provide a clearer picture and contribute to a healthier and better informed debate.

In essence Brookings produced a series of tabular and graphical metrics that indicate progress in Iraq. During 2006 and 2007, the metrics indicated a dismal picture of a country in chaos. At that time, Democratic leaders including Pelosi, Reid, Dodd, and of course, Barack Obama, argued that we should exit Iraq precipitously. There was, they collectively argued, no chance of success. They. Were. Wrong.

Today, the Iraq Index indicates significant, sometimes spectacular, progress in every area— crime, telephone and water service, civilian and troop fatalities, unemployment, Iraqi security forces, oil production, and coalition troop strength.

It’s not surprising that Barack Obama, in his increasingly bizarre double-speak, says his position on Iraq hasn’t changed, but also states that he’s “refining” his position, scurrying away from his commitment to pull our troops out of a “losing effort.” He is right to do that, but he was dead wrong in his assessment when times were tough.

As President, he would have done exactly the wrong thing, much as he argues President Bush did when he invaded Iraq in the first place. Following one bad decision with another bad decision is not solid leadership. In fact, it smacks of inexperience and an overly ideological mindset.

The key question for each of us to ask is this: Obama’s much vaunted “judgment” was seriously flawed in 2006. Why would any of us believe that it would be any better in 2009?