Thursday, February 15, 2007

Harman's Had Her Friedman Unit - Now What?

Jane Harman, eight months ago speaking on the floor of the House (all emphasis mine):
“Since I returned from my third trip to Iraq last September, I have been calling on the Administration to develop an exit strategy. And I believe it is now time to begin the phased, strategic redeployment of U.S. and coalition forces out of Iraq on a schedule designed by military commanders, not designed by the US Congress.

“The U.S. is part of the solution in Iraq, but our large military presence is part of the problem. Beginning to reduce the “footprint,” while maintaining an over-the-horizon strike force, will improve our chances for success.

I think we have 3-6 months to advance three objectives:

Notice the 6 month timeframe given? That explains my use of the Friedman Unit in the post title. The term is named after the "serious" foreign policy writer at the NYT, Thomas Friedman. Check the link and you will learn why.

Back to Harman's objectives:
“First, helping the new Iraqi government provide electrical power, particularly in Baghdad, and deliver other critical economic and social services to the Iraqi people.

When Jane Harman made this speech (June 2006), Baghdad had 8.0 hours of electricity a day. Six months later (Dec 2006), the city had just 6.7 hours a day, and it has even less now (6.1). Nationwide, the number of hours of electricity/day has also declined significantly - from 11.9 to 9.2 six months later. (Source: Brookings Institution, Iraq Index, p. 28)

Other critical economic and social indicators:
Unemployment stands at an astronomical 25-40%, unchanged since June (Iraq Index, p. 29)

Inflation that's well north of 50%, due to fuel prices jumping 800% between end of 2005 and early 2007, and still at 35% when excluding energy costs. ((Iraq Index, p. 33)

And when you can't provide security -- as the daily bombings in Baghdad attest -- you can't exactly provide social services.
“Second, supporting the Iraqi government in its effort to disarm Shiite militias and integrate them into a trained Iraqi national security force.
After Harman's six month window, the number of daily attacks by insurgents and militias actually increased from 100 to 185((Iraq Index, p. 20), and this clearly involves Shiite militias in addition to Sunnis, otherwise you wouldn't have the Iraqi prime minister calling on Shiite militias to disarm.

“Third, continuing the process, begun by our able Ambassador Khalilzad, of obtaining buy-in from Sunni political leaders.

That doesn't appear to have advanced any from June until now.

Achieving these objectives will enable us to leave Iraq in better shape than we found it.

OK, then the inverse of this should also hold true: Failure to achieve these objectives will prevent us from leaving Iraq in better shape than we found it.

“The next three months are critical. We have a moral obligation to assist Iraq on its path to democracy, but if clearly-defined minimum objectives cannot be achieved within that time frame, the prospects for success in Iraq could all but disappear. So … a change of course is urgently needed.

That critical three month window closed on September 15, and the six-month window closed on December 15.

And based on the objectives that Jane Harman herself laid out in June, Iraq is messed up beyond repair. Not only have none of her three objectives been achieved yet, but there's been little, if any, progress on reaching any of them.

But all we hear from Harman is more of the same.

If we can't leave until Iraq is fixed, we'll be there forever. It's time Jane got real on this.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spending a lot of time on the keyboard railing against Jane, aren't you ?
She's one of the better people's representatives from California.

7:52 AM  
Blogger PeterB said...

I'm holding her to her words - you're welcome to criticize the argument I'm making. If you think it's faulty, unfair, etc. just say why you think so.

I think you'll find I'm willing to engage in a discussion.

10:23 PM  

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