Metrics and the Democracy Initiative

Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Glen links to this most excellent comment. With all the breast beating about metrics to measure success, follow this excellent comment and especially her embedded link about "winning ugly." It is quite refreshing to read historian's views rather than the tripe published by the MSM.


truepeers said...

Yes, there are good signs that we are slowly winning this war. But as one of Klinghoffer's commenters put it, why say we are winning ugly instead of losing pretty? This is purely a quibble. War is never pretty, but if this is the beginning of the end for a dysfunctional, tyrannical ME - and we no doubt still have a long way to go - i think it will be remarkable to future historians, notwithstanding the US military superiority in many respects, that such a major turning of the tide occurred with so little war, so few casualties. I say this with all respect for those who have already sacrificed too much.

This is perhaps a sign of the internal fatigue and moral collapse of the old ME (e.g. Baathist) regimes. Let's remember that the Jihadis are as much at war with the old ME regimes as with us and they must have some ambivalence about what they are doing in Iraq as the recent Al Qaeda correspondence suggests. But I wonder also if our own growing western intolerance for casualties is not also mirrored in a world-wide decline in desire and capability to wage war.

RogerA said...

Exactly--I think it is significant that within the Islamic world, those folks may finally understand that killing fellow moslims isnt a good thing; of course, that argument is never surfaced and the only focus is on the violence itself and how that violence suggests we arent making progress--But I do agree with the argument--a movement that kills its fellow moslims and NOT americans, is a flawed movement; and if what we are doing forces moslims to reach that conclusion, that is a powerful argument for the president's policy of democratization.
So how come we dont see this argument at all in the MSM?

Syl said...

I made the same point using much the same data and argument a couple of weeks ago at a non-blog site I sometimes bum in. I was met with total fury.

When I added PEW poll data, it was dismissed. When I quoted from an al Qaeda book, I was told it was a forgery.

Then they trotted out the latest data on American deaths in Iraq.

They believe everything they read on lefty blogs, but military blogs are prejudiced and Iraqi blogs are CIA plants--except for Riverbend, the ONLY Iraqi blog anyone there will even consider.

Sometimes I wonder if people are capable of learning and adjusting their thinking when new information comes in.

It's like they're stuck in early 2003 and nothing has happened since except what they deem supports their 2003 position.

RogerA said...

Syl--thanks as always for your input--I dont think the MSM or the liberal side of our society is capable of wrapping their thought about the fact that we just may be changing the most reactionary part of the world. This is potentially a profound revolution; and apparently, if the original poster is correct (and I do LOVE female historians going back to Barbara Tuchman) then we have created fault lines in Islamic thought.
Thats a good thing--and by all means follow the links in her post--they are fascinating and suggest that traditional islamist society may,in fact, have major fault lines developing.

vnjagvet said...

There was some pretty interesting discussion on Hume's news program tonight among Barnes, Kondracke and Liasson. They were discussing Barnes and Kondracke both felt that both that real progress was being made in Iraq and hence the ME, and that if successful it is hard to overstate how meaningful it will be. Interestingly, while Liasson did not agree, her position was not against these obeservations. It was to the effect that it is too early to tell.

terrye said...


They love bad news, it makes their day. A friend of my Dad's fought the Japanese hand to hand and they used to the rotting Japanese enemy dead to give cover as they fought. These people have no idea how ugly... ugly can be.

Maybe someday if Iraqis a decent country they can go there and tell the folks they meet that if it had been left up to them Saddam and his psycho sons would still be raping and pillaging the country and the UN would still be Saddam's whore/bank account.

The point is that jihad doesn't look anywhere near as noble when it is your own you are killing.

Syl said...

I believe the major fault lines would develop anyway but Bush has accelerated the process.

And the mere fact of disagreements within the Islamic communities would have little practical consequences for us if there weren't an alternative for muslim societies to turn to.

This alternative is what Bush is in the process of giving them. Thus the fault lines are of more consequence and a tipping point should be reached much sooner than if Iraq had not taken place.

With, or without, Iraq our decimation of the leadership of al Qaeda (except the two at the top) has forced cells and groups to act on their own without specific guidance from above.

Zawahiri is forced to make power-point like presentations of general goals, and bin ladin is forced into almost total silence.

Their overall strategy is still in place, but we've totally messed up their tactics.

Bush is criticized because there are cells all over the place wreaking havoc. But they don't see that the independent nature of these cells actually works to our advantage.

Because they make mistakes.

Big mistakes.

Like bombing London tubes.

Remember the interview of the Islamist, Butt? The interview was before the London bombings. He said the Islamists would be foolish to attack inside Britain. They would lose their haven.

Guess what.

So one combines the foolish tactics of Islamic terrorists in the West with the brutal, cruel, slaughter of muslims by al Qaeda in Iraq and muslims are left with: 'WTF are these bozos accomplishing?'

And does this say anything at all to other would be terrorists in the West?

It seems, if one should blow himself up in, say, Oklahoma, he will be ignored by the NY Times. Do they then wonder 'What's the point?'.

The Islamist terrorists will be around for a long time, yet so much depends on the attitudes of their muslim brethren back home. If they start crying 'Not in my name! I have better things to do.' it will have an effect.

truepeers said...

"So how come we dont see this argument at all in the MSM?"

Roger, I guess it's a sign that the old regime is strongest in the west. It'll take them more time than some of the Jihadis to see they're on the wrong side of history, but history waits for no one, soon enough.

Rick Ballard said...

Will success in Iraq have a negative impact on the prosecution of the war in other countries? As we begin the drawdown of a third of our forces next spring and summer I believe that we're going to see a clamor raised to 'bring them all home'. The election campaign will begin in January and be in full throat by April-May.

The media template is going to call the planned withdrawal a defeat - or conversely - a victory for the left wing. It doesn't matter if there's a picture of W in a place of honor in every home in Iraq - we'll be withdrawing because of pressure from the left wing nutters according to the DeMSM script. The question is going to be raised - actually it's going to be screamed - as to why we're leaving troops in harms way - why aren't we bringing all the "children" home.

That's the moment about which I have reservations because the same spineless RINO's who think they should be the inhabitant of the WH are going to be watching the weathervane of public opinion very carefully. If the great muddle starts to drift into complacency the RINO's will betray the war effort instantly.

Iraq was an important and necessary battle and the outcome there has been excellent to date. As far as the war goes, it's the equivalent of the landings at Salerno or Iwo - we're still a long way from the end.

I would be interested in other's ideas concerning establishing metrics for success concerning the next objectives.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

After reading this truly excellent account from Michael Yon, I have no doubt whatsoever that we are winning the War in Iraq. If you haven't read it yet, put everything else down and read it now.

My fear is whether we are winning the real war, the one going on here in the US. The MSM and the "left" are trying hard to establish a narrative of defeat. A narrative in which all the evil in the world is due to the European male oppressor class. A world in which Bush, by definition, is causing more terrorism. The facts are irrelevant. It's the belief that counts. The OKC bombing facts don't fit into this narrative, ergo they must be blocked out. Michael Yon's reports don't fit, non-Riverbend Iraqi blogs don't fit, all this must be blocked out.

I think the truth is, Syl, regarding your travails at that other web site, that there is always value in providing an alternative point of view. As Catherine Johnson has noted many times, clashes like that always cause subconscious rethinking, whether it's known at the time or not. And as Rick Ballard has pointed out, if you stick calmly to the facts some people will be persuaded.

The problem is that what we are asking from those people is tantamount to religious conversion. Neo-neocon has written about this extremely elegantly. If they are to give up even a single point to you then they are in danger of having the whole edifice of their belief system fall apart, so they can't allow any of the facts to get in. But facts are stubborn things. Remember that the belief system they hold is not held because it's true and because they're devoted to the truth; rather, it is held because they have a need for some reason for this to be true. It could be for a thousand and one reasons. Maybe they mistreated their father and feel guilty about it so it is necessary that all white males be evil else they won't be able to stand the guilt. You can't psychoanalyze them all but the calm recitation of facts without rancor will inevitably have its effect.

RogerA said...

Rick--you asked for metrics--and I think it is precisely Klinghoffer's post that get to the point--the metrics are not in the number of attacks or the number of Iraqi battalions etc. The appropriate metrics are found in the rest of the Arab world--for example: the number of women who protest patriarchal regimes; the number of Muslim scholars who issue fatwas condeming the violence against muslims muslims; hopefully an increase in number of enfranchised muslims throught the tyrannical regimes of the ME; the number of muslims who have access to the internet--
Those, to me are the REAL metrics of our success--the point is, that our success is not just in Iraq; it is throughout the Arab world--regretably, the pundits, the MSM, and the chattering classes, fail to grasp the vision that our President has laid out: Democracy in the middle east.

RogerA said...

OK Rick--and just who is that old f**t that you posted next to your post--looks like he should be on our currency.

Rick Ballard said...

I'm surprised, Roger. I purposefully selected a portrait reflecting a more youthful appearance. "Old", indeed!*

Wrt metrics - Democracy in the ME is indeed the strategic objective. The items you noted are important and measureable. To that list I would add the quick introduction of new text books in Iraq and some progress in replacing the madrassas in Pakistan that have been jihadist training centers. I believe that I'll do some thinking about what a Table of achievements might look like.

*Edmund Burke - who else?

MeaninglessHotAir said...

I like it. Somebody should write up a list for a top-level post and we can refer back to it as they are accomplished, one by one. ;-)

JB said...

Looks like the Constitution will pass, according to an LGF post. Iraq is a de facto democracy.

W. needs to keep speaking, hammering on the accomplishments to date and the work remaining. Stewardship of ME transformational process is going to be a big theme of the next 3 years.

vnjagvet said...


Your description of Yon's article is not overblown. What great reporting. Ernie Pyle was no better. Why isn't he syndicated?
Or on TV. He is terrific.


I agree about the President being out front with communications about the war's progress.

The models for this are Churchill and FDR, whose radio messages in bad times as well as good kept up morale on the home front for the entirety of WWII.

With the superior methods of communications of today, there should be more attention given to this aspect of the war.

Last week's speech was excellent, and received by most everyone as such.

Why not have a status report monthly on the war? Bad and good developments as well. I think there is no downside to this.

JB said...

Why not have a status report monthly on the war? Bad and good developments as well. I think there is no downside to this.

That's an excellent idea. Of course, they're going to be spun as cynically and negatively as possible, but just his regular presence could make a dent in the media's template of the war. Repetition is important. A little news and a lot of reminders why we fight could go a long way.

Knucklehead said...

It is nice to see a scholar in one of the US's Leftists institutions of higher learning note that we are winning this war.

Those of us who are convinced that we are engaged in Yet Another Global Conflict With Yet Another Brutally Reactionary Enemy see the current situation as something other than "winning ugly".

Checkloslovakia, Poland, France, Dunkirk, Pearl Harbor, Hong Kong, Guam, Wake Island, the Phillipines, Singapore, the massive losses in the Atlantic, Midway, Guadalcanal, Kasserine, D-Day, Sicily, Anzio, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, and etc qualify as "winning ugly".

For all the flaws and faults that will eventually be documented this will, I believe, go down as one of the more instructive examples of waging war as non-ugly as war can be waged.