Good News In the War In Iraq

It looks like we have turned another corner:

A classified briefing prepared two weeks ago by the United States Central Command portrays Iraq as edging toward chaos, in a chart that the military is using as a barometer of civil conflict.

A one-page slide shown at the Oct. 18 briefing provides a rare glimpse into how the military command that oversees the war is trying to track its trajectory, particularly in terms of sectarian fighting.

The slide includes a color-coded bar chart that is used to illustrate an “Index of Civil Conflict.” It shows a sharp escalation in sectarian violence since the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February, and tracks a further worsening this month despite a concerted American push to tamp down the violence in Baghdad.

In fashioning the index, the military is weighing factors like the ineffectual Iraqi police and the dwindling influence of moderate religious and political figures, rather than more traditional military measures such as the enemy’s fighting strength and the control of territory.

The conclusions the Central Command has drawn from these trends are not encouraging, according to a copy of the slide that was obtained by The New York Times. The slide shows Iraq as moving sharply away from “peace,” an ideal on the far left side of the chart, to a point much closer to the right side of the spectrum, a red zone marked “chaos.” As depicted in the command’s chart, the needle has been moving steadily toward the far right of the chart.

It even has a pretty colored so Bush and Rumsfeld can understand it (although in fairness, anyone who was ever in the military knows how much the brass loves static displays and cheese charts- I imagine they are the same with powerpoint).






22 replies
  1. 1
    Richard 23 says:

    As depicted in the command’s chart, the needle has been moving steadily toward the far right of the chart.

    This is what happens when you move to the far right: chaos. (“a red zone,” no less).

    OK, maybe not, but it was interesting symbolism. To me.

  2. 2
    cd6 says:

    Does “Chaos” imply mandatory gay marriages / abortions?

    Which would be worse, a country full of ethnic cleansing, or a country full of sodomites? Somebody poll Rick Santorum and James Dobson and get back to me on this.

  3. 3
    Ryan S. says:

    “Index of Civil Conflict War”
    Fixed

  4. 4
    legion says:

    (although in fairness, anyone who was ever in the military knows how much the brass loves static displays and cheese charts- I imagine they are the same with powerpoint).

    Oh hell yeah. Actually, it’s extremely surprising that a slide with that many words on it made it through to a general – and I am _not_ being snarky. Red/Yellow/Green ‘stoplight’ charts are absolutely mandatory.

  5. 5

    Yes, John, the brass just luvs it some PowerPoint — IMO, the cheesier, the better. No Edward Tufte-esque graphics for them. (Although, to be fair, that “Order<->Chaos” bar could have been lifted from the pages of any of his books, at least if the color had been stripped. No extra ink, lots of extra information.

  6. 6

    I find it interesting that the Bush administration wants to focus on the words of a Senator on the campaign trail in California while virtually every intelligent observer believes that the “stay the course” effort in Iraq is putting our troops in harms way.

    If the President is actually concerned for our troops, why doesn’t he admit his administration’s mistakes and focus his energy on crafting a new war strategy rather than a new political strategy…but that would require him to be less concerned with political power and more concerned with protecting our troops…troops he enjoys waving around like a cheap campaign sign when he thinks that will win him votes…the same troops that died in near record numbers in October in a war the President declared we had won more than two years ago.

    Read more here:

    http://www.thoughttheater.com

  7. 7
    Andrew says:

    They used a proper two color spectrum, with contextually relevant color choices! The Pentagon has turned the corner in the war against meaningless rainbow color spectrum representation.

  8. 8

    Thank God!

    I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!

    I just wish it wasn’t an oncoming train.

  9. 9
    Pb says:

    I rather liked the Failed States Index, personally, but I think that only gets run once every year or something. Anyhow, I can see the slogans now:

    Iraq: More Stable Than Darfur!

  10. 10
    RSA says:

    Red/Yellow/Green ‘stoplight’ charts are absolutely mandatory.

    Good God. Aside from military culture considerations, they could have gone with a single hue, since the information falls along a 1D continuum. Also, given what they did choose, they should have adjusted for luminence; notice how much the yellow area in the middle stands out? Not meaningful.

    Any idea if the color coding of the additional icons on the left is tied to the index bar? For example, “unorganized spontaneous mass civil conflict” is a circle icon, meaning that it’s “routine”, but it’s also as green as the “peace” bound on the index bar. What’s up with that?

  11. 11
    RSA says:

    Oops. “Luminance”.

  12. 12
    tBone says:

    Where does al-Maliki ordering us around fall on that nifty little chart, I wonder?

  13. 13

    tBone, it’s quite simple. The Iraqis are standing up, so we’re backing down. It isn’t cut-and-run, it’s more like…something else. I’m sure.

  14. 14
    mds says:

    Which would be worse, a country full of ethnic cleansing, or a country full of sodomites? Somebody poll Rick Santorum and James Dobson and get back to me on this.

    Well, since according to Congresswoman Musgrave, gay marriage is the gravest threat facing this nation, she would probably say the latter, so feel free to extrapolate.

    I still can’t get over the fact that the military brass are suddenly rainbow-friendly. Took ’em long enough.

  15. 15
    p.lukasiak says:

    get ready for our november surprise….

    Today thru Friday…. Growing media controversy over the abandonment of an American soldier in Sadr City on the orders of the Iraqi “government” Bushco demands return of the kidnapped soldier, and warns of “consequences.” Those demands are ignored

    Saturday night (Sunday morning, Iraq time) US launches bombing raids on “terrorist sanctuaries” in Sadr City, and sends thousands of troops into Sadr City to do a house to house search for the missing soldier.

    Sunday night… widescale uprising in Sadr City against the US troops, forcing the abandonment of the troops… US refuses to release casualty figures.

    Tuesday night….as Iraq descends further into chaos, “shocking” election results are announced that the talking heads interpret as “support for the President’s efforts”….

  16. 16
    Bonnie says:

    Well there is one November Suprise that is put off – the Saddam verdict. Do you think that will cause any unrest in Iraq????

  17. 17
    yet another jeff says:

    So things are only 3/4s of the way to chaos? Was this scale designed by Billy Crystal’s character in The Princess Bride? It’s not chaos, it’s only mostly chaos.

  18. 18
    jcricket says:

    Was this scale designed by Billy Crystal’s character in The Princess Bride? It’s not chaos, it’s only mostly chaos.

    He did not say stay the course. He distinctly said “Stay the curse“, and we all know the curse is the curse of the midterm elections, which can cause havoc to the Republican agenda, and that’s what he was trying to “stay”.

    It’s totally different.

    Just one question: John Cole = Carol Kane in this scenario?

  19. 19
    Perry Como says:

    The Air Force needs an emergency $50 billion supplement to bring home the dead and wounded from Iraq. Last throes, bitches, last throes.

  20. 20
    Tsulagi says:

    …an ideal on the far left side of the chart, to a point much closer to the right side of the spectrum, a red zone marked “chaos.” As depicted in the command’s chart, the needle has been moving steadily toward the far right of the chart.

    LOL. That is funny. Dems should use that chart during this last week before midterms. Have them mention this admin has been pegging the damn needle to the right here for a while now and what does the chart characterize that?

    Noticed tBone linked this upthread. So our troops have one area blockaded and searching where a kidnapped soldier is believed being held and also putting pressure on militias in Sadr City. Maliki orders us to stand down giving a deadline to do so. We comply.

    No way Army and Marines would have left a man behind unless it was a decision/order from our political “leaders.” Yeah, they support the troops.

    Also apparently death squad militias like those based in Sadr City. Guess our admin hearts terrorists as long as they give them a purple finger. Oh, but a poorly worded/misinterpreted joke from Kerry is bulletproof evidence the Dems would be worse. Stay the course.

  21. 21
    Richard 23 says:

    The Iraqis are standing up, so we’re backing down.

    Awesome! I can’t wait to hear Tony Snow-job use this one to silence those naughty critics!

  22. 22
    BadTux says:

    Man, this whole Iraq thing has turned more corners than a turd swirling around a toilet bowl.

    Hint to Bush apologists: You can’t polish a turd.

    Meanwhile, a little military truism is “tactics win battles, logistics win wars”. The Sunni insurgents have largely cut off all supply lines to Baghdad and the city is slowly starving. All that’s left open, at the moment, is the approach from the east (from Iran), where they’re currently battling Shiite militias for control while the Americans just look on and the so-called “Iraqi army” is ordered by their American superiors to not intervene because the Americans want to see the Mahdi Army use itself up against the Sunni insurgents. Uhm, the same Mahdi Army that we blame for kidnapping American troops. This war has as many sides as it has corners and the “good guys” and “bad guys” are often the same people, just in different places or switched sides since yesterday. I get deja-vu to Lebanon’s civil war every day now.

    But I suppose we can just all drink the kool-aid and shout, “stay the course! defeatocrats!” while the turd that is the Iraqi war swirls its way around on its trip down the toilet bowl…

    – Badtux the “Why do they keep trying to polish a turd?” Penguin

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