Friday, September 17, 2004

Don't Believe The Hype

Captain Ed has posted a letter from a Marine Corp Major challenging the growing impression in the media that Iraq is a disaster. In it he specifically addresses the National Intelligence Estimate that has sparked the latest round of hand wringing:

The US media is abuzz today with the news of an intelligence report that is very negative about the prospects for Iraq's future. CNN's website says, "[The] National Intelligence Estimate was sent to the White House in July with a classified warning predicting the best case for Iraq was 'tenuous stability' and the worst case was civil war." That report, along with the car bombings and kidnappings in Baghdad in the past couple days are being portrayed in the media as more proof of absolute chaos and the intransigence of the insurgency.

From where I sit, at the Operational Headquarters in Baghdad, that just isn't the case. Let's lay out some background, first about the "National Intelligence Estimate." The most glaring issue with its relevance is the fact that it was delivered to the White House in July. That means that the information that was used to derive the intelligence was gathered in the Spring -- in the immediate aftermath of the April battle for Fallujah, and other events. The report doesn't cover what has happened in July or August, let alone September.

Read the whole thing. Personally I don't find the NIE predictions all that alarming. In the short term, "tenuous stability" is probably the best we can hope for and the threat of civil war has always been the worst case scenario. Iraq was not going to transformed overnight, but if we can maintain that "tenuous stability" the insurgency can be quelled and the country set upon the right course for the future.

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