Saturday, January 20, 2007

Missing Metrics - What else do we need to know about how things are going in Iraq?

In looking closely at the text of Michael O'Hanlon's testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 10th, 2007, I noticed that he spoke of quite a few Iraqi factors on the ground that were NOT included in the list of 30 metrics reported.

A small number of the factors that showed up in the tabular data were mentioned in the logic of the text, but I was surprised by how many important factors from the text had no numerical equivalent in the table.

Here's a list of the missing factors that I found in the text with my comments in brackets.

Good year/Bad Year - <I would love to know more about what key factors Michael incorporates in his thinking in coming up with this assessment and would find it enlightening if this black and white measurement were refined and reported on say a scale from 1 to 10 or 1 to 100>

The year 2006 was, tragically and inescapably, a bad one in Iraq.”

Sense of Progress

“The first is the failure of the 2005 election process to produce any sense of progress.”

Al-Maliki Favorabaility Rating

“In a September poll, Prime Minister al-Maliki was viewed unfavorably by 85 percent of all Sunni Arabs”

Rate of Shia attacks on Sunnis

Rate of Sunni attacks on Shia

Increasing politicization of the violence “to include many more Shia attacks on Sunnis as well as the reverse”

Iraqi state subsidies for consumer goods

“recent reductions in Iraqi state subsidies for consumer goods (which distort the economy and divert government resources)”,

The number of children being immunized.

Percentage who feel safe en route to school

Rate of private sector investment

“further slide toward chaos.”

Percent who think Economy is Poor

According to a June, 2006 poll, 59 percent call the economy poor

Percent who think security environment is poor

“and 75 percent describe the security environment as poor”.

Rate of Jobs Creation

“a massive program to create jobs”

Degree of Iraqi Leader consensus on sharing oil

“an ultimatum to Iraqi political leaders that if they fail to achieve consensus on key issues like sharing oil”,

“American support for the operation

could very soon decline”

Number of coalition forces needed to provide security.

“Coalition forces have never reached the numbers needed to provide security for the population in Iraq

Degree of Overwork of our Soldiers and Marines

“our already overworked soldiers and Marines”.

Rate of “Success of military commanders in putting Iraqis to work

with their commander emergency response program funds”,

Degree of Support Iraqi Leaders enjoy outside their own sectarian group.

“it is clear that extremely few Iraqi leaders enjoy any real support outside of their own sectarian group.”

Degree to which Iraqi Leaders are working across sectarian lines.

“Trying to force them to work across sectarian lines must be a focus of our policy efforts, if there is to be any hope of ultimate stability in Iraq.”

The Probability that a Given Intervention will succeed

“Social scientists and military experts do not know how to assess rigorously the probabilities that such steps will succeed at this late hour in Iraq.” [Emphasis added]

Degree of Pessimism

“Overall, however, it seems fair to say that most have become quite pessimistic.”

Iraqis displaced per month

“But with 100,000 Iraqis per month being displaced from their homes, making for a total of some two million since Saddam was overthrown, ethnic cleansing is already happening.”

Bottom Line: If we want to understand what's going on in Iraq, we are going to have to work harder at bringing these missing metrics out in the open where every citizen can see them, think about them, discuss them.

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