Monday, August 29, 2005

Metrics for Measuring Success in the Middle East

Andrew Krepinevich asserts that “the Bush administration [has] focused on the wrong metrics for measuring success in Iraq.” I totally agree with this statement, but not for the reasons Mr. Krepinevich states. The Bush administration has not done enough to communicate on real successes that are coming out of the Middle East. Nevertheless, the Defense Adaptive Red Team (DART), a group within the Pentagon, has been focusing on “measures of effectiveness” as have those working on the Pew Center’s Global Attitudes Project survey. The results may be surprising to those against the war.

Gary Anderson, a former Marine Colonel and head of DART, realizes that gauging success against a global insurgency (war on terrorism) is difficult but not impossible. Focusing on how many insurgents have been killed is less effective than other strategies; Anderson believes, "kinetic measures of casualties and body counts never has worked and probably never will work because if you don't know how big the terrorist organization was to begin with, you really don't know how much progress you've made." Anderson sites the progress of representative governments in the region with elections in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Egypt as a measure of success. Indeed, the Pew center report reveals accomplishments in changing the hearts and minds of the Muslim world.

Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt have witnessed dramatic increases in favorable attitudes towards democracy in their countries. More and more, people in the Middle East are discussing politics and thinking that change could be possible. Michael Barone states that “the Pew polls in these Muslim countries show that those attacks have moved Muslim opinion against the terrorists and toward democracy.” Unfortunately, this good news has fallen on deaf ears.

Mr. Krepinevich points out that while reenlistment rates are up, recruitment is down drastically. He believes that this is bad news; on the contrary, what this reveals is that those who are in the region feel that they are making a difference. With the persistent negativity coming out of the mainstream media, should we have expected recruitment to rise? What is truly revealing is that those in the region (Muslims and American soldiers) believe that things are changing and in the right direction. Mr. Krepinevich is dead on: the Bush Administration has used the wrong metrics. It is time to focus on positive news, not just pessimism.

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