Monday, September 10, 2007

A Few Petraeus Inspired Thoughts

1- I've finally figured out why I hate the 2008 political season more than any other year I can remember. Our two major political parties both stand to gain (electorally) by the loss of American life. The GOP would likely benefit from a major terrorist attack and the Democrats would likely benefit from an increasingly unstable and hectic Iraq. I'm not saying anyone is rooting for these things to happen but I never like it when politicians stand to gain from continued/new misery. I'm reminded of something about cannibals and constituencies.

2- It is that complicated. General Petraeus claims that his calculation of "ethno-sectarian" violence is easy to understand.
Gen. Petraeus offered his definition of sectarian violence for his tabulations: "acts taken by individual by one ethno-sectarian grouping against another." He added that "it's not that complicated": if "al-Qaeda bombs a Shiite area," it's sectarian violence.
Two questions: How do you know that al-Qaeda is behind a bombing and doesn't it follow that if al-Qaeda bombs a Sunni area it doesn't count as sectarian violence? (Eric Black notices the same thing here.) Imagine that you're a non-religious Swiss in Iraq. Would you be bothered by a Sunni on Sunni bomb on your block less than a Sunni on Shiite one?

3- Is the US capping violence in Iraq or systematically reducing it? I suppose we'll have to wait at least another 6 months to even start asking this one.

4- What two intel agencies is Petraeus talking about? I thought this would have been an obvious follow-up.

5- Where is the data and how is it counted? Still waiting on this one.

That's it for now.

UPDATE: Mr. Black also has good posts on Petraeus' answer about his 2004 editorial in the middle of a presidential campaign, Brad Sherman's interesting questioning, and an informative post on Ambassador Ryan Crocker. For reasons almost too easy to explain ( editors...), Mr. Black's blog is a good example of a good reporter working on his own in the blogosphere.

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