22. January, 2004 - light up the ice

The big news on the home front for this morning is that today is the first day with my new shower. Woo! No longer will I have to put up with the shower-on-a-hose which provided little more water than standing out in the rain, but instead I’ve got a real shower head, mounted on the wall that seems to provide a decent stream of water. It’s odd, but that cheers me quite a bit. The thousand dollars I spent on having a plumber do it hurts a bit, but realistically, it wasn’t the kind of thing I was going to get done anytime soon myself, and it was bugging me every single morning, so looking at the price that way, it’s not too unreasonable.

Also of note is that I finally got all the boxes in the living room (well, except for the three (three? yes, that many) boxes of miscellaneous computer stuff) unpacked or moved into the basement. It cleared a lot of space in the middle of the room and makes it easier to see how the room might look when I push the furniture around a bit in order to get things arranged in a way that makes more sense to me. Another small step towards making my house a home, but those steps have been adding up, and it feels like home before I hit the one-month mark of living here (which will be tomorrow). I still need to figure out where the rest of the computer equipment (mostly the scanner, and a couple printers) is going to live so I can pull the relevant bits out of those boxes, but I might have a plan for that, thanks to Steph stopping by to play paper-dolls with my house yesterday evening. Thanks!

Strategic errors in reporting

And now into the longer rant for the day… I’ve had a chance to read the paper Bounding the Global War on Terrorism which says the invasion of Iraq was a strategic error and while I’m not going to try and argue with Jeffrey Record (at least not today), who wrote the paper, I might have some issues with Bob Johnson, who wrote the AP article about it. Reading it, I see where Mr. Record says that the invasion of Iraq was a distraction from the global war on terror, but in spite of the quotes in the headline and body of the article, the exact quote is:

Of particular concern has been the conflation of al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as a single, undifferentiated terrorist threat. This was a strategic error of the first order because it ignored critical differences between the two in character, threat level, and susceptibility to U.S. deterrence and military action.

What that says to me is that equating al-Qaeda and Saddam is an error, and saying that they’re a single threat is also an error. It also says that the invasion of Iraq was a distraction from the global war on terror but the paper never says that the invasion of Iraq was a strategic error.

Strategically, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM was not part of the GWOT; rather, it was a war-of-choice distraction from the war of necessity against al-Qaeda.

But as I've mentioned here before, there was intelligence that there were biological and chemical weapons in Iraq (just ask the Kurds), and that Saddam Hussein was planning to sell some to Al-Qaeda. Whether that intelligence was right or not, it was deemed credible enough that Bill Clinton thought reining in Saddam would be a good thing back in 1998.

The headline also implies that it’s the Army War College saying this. But right there on page ii of the paper it says:

The views expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

That standard boilerplate says to me that it’s a paper written by someone at the Army War College, but doesn’t necessarily reflect the college’s views. As it turns out, Jeffrey Record’s a visiting professor there, and not even part of the permanent staff.

Regardless what you think of the paper, the article talking about it is misleading, as is the headline. I definitely disagree with the conclusions of the article, and that’s all that most people read (if they even got past the headline), rather than digging more deeply to find out what the paper that’s cited actually says. As Paul Harvey says …and that’s the rest of the story.

Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 13:55:54.