Sunday, March 09, 2008
i took quarterwater and sold it in bottles for two bucks:
The blogosphere has driven Michael O'Hanlon batshit insane. His latest assault on his own reputation comes in his latest New York Times Iraq update:
To track progress, we have established “Brookings benchmarks” — a set of goals on the political front similar to the broader benchmarks set for Baghdad by Congress last year. Our 11 benchmarks include establishing provincial election laws, reaching an oil-revenue sharing accord, enacting pension and amnesty laws, passing annual federal budgets, hiring Sunni volunteers into the security forces, holding a fair referendum on the disputed northern oil city of Kirkuk, and purging extremists from government ministries and security forces.

At the moment, we give the Iraqis a score of 5 out of 11 (our system allows a score of 0, 0.5, or 1 for each category, and is dynamic, meaning we can subtract points for backsliding). It is far too soon to predict that Iraq is headed for stability or sectarian reconciliation. But it is also clear that those who assert that its politics are totally broken have not kept up with the news.
But but but what? What the fuck is a Brookings Benchmark? How does it weight, say, the substance of one of these "benchmarks" -- like, you know, how the Iraqi Presidential Council gutted the provincial powers law? Or what a "fair" referendum in Kirkuk is supposed to mean -- "Fair" because it's administered fairly (whatever that means) or "fair" because its outcome won't plunge Iraq into further chaos? Am I supposed to say, "Wow, guess I haven't kept up with all the good news from Iraq" because Michael O'Hanlon has decided to cash the intellectual check for the war in Monopoly money? Not even Calvin would be willing to play Calvinball this egregiously.
--Spencer Ackerman