March 27, 2005

Reasons For Fudging

American military leaders in Iraq are, understandably enough, trying to play up the successes of Iyad Allawi's security forces against that dastardly Sunni insurgency. But Swopa notices some interesting ulterior motives to all of this: If and when the Shiite majority finally forms a government and comes to power, they're probably going to start purging elements of the current Allawi regime. U.S. leaders would rather this didn't happen, since he's our buddy and all, so they're trying to convince Iraqis that Allawi's security forces are entirely crucial for victory against the baddies. More to the point, the U.S. is worried that the Shiites will sweep in and put in place their own militias as the backbone of Iraq's new security service. Which could mean sectarian violence, etc. etc. So it's hype for Allawi's crew!

That all seems plausible. On a related note, last week I wrote up a quick article for MoJo on why we really ought to have better metrics on Iraqi troop training. That's still very true, but nevertheless, it seems there could be a number of political reasons for the U.S. not to put out that sort of hard data. Perhaps, for instance, the Pentagon wants to have the final say over when the U.S. stays or leaves, and if there was concrete statistical proof that Iraq was actually stabilizing, the Pentagon would lose control over when to leave. Or, alternatively, the U.S. is trying to navigate inter-Iraqi politics, as per Swopa, and good, hard facts would only interfere with our propaganda abilities. Very tricky.
-- Brad Plumer 4:23 AM || ||