Much hilarity today at Michael O'Hanlon's continued quest to destroy the reputation of the Brookings Institution.
To track progress, we have established “Brookings benchmarks” — a set of goals on the political front similar to the broader benchmarks set for Baghdad by Congress last year. Our 11 benchmarks include establishing provincial election laws, reaching an oil-revenue sharing accord, enacting pension and amnesty laws, passing annual federal budgets, hiring Sunni volunteers into the security forces, holding a fair referendum on the disputed northern oil city of Kirkuk, and purging extremists from government ministries and security forces.All this without a shred of information on how O'Hanlon calculated his actual scores. We're just supposed to trust him because he's a VSP.
At the moment, we give the Iraqis a score of 5 out of 11 (our system allows a score of 0, 0.5, or 1 for each category, and is dynamic, meaning we can subtract points for backsliding). It is far too soon to predict that Iraq is headed for stability or sectarian reconciliation. But it is also clear that those who assert that its politics are totally broken have not kept up with the news.
Spencer Ackerman responds:
Am I supposed to say, "Wow, guess I haven't kept up with all the good news from Iraq" because Michael O'Hanlon has decided to cash the intellectual check for the war in Monopoly money? Not even Calvin would be willing to play Calvinball this egregiously.And John Cole provides the requisite You-Tube clip for my headline.
Update James Joyner points to the Brookings Institute's latest Iraq Index (PDF) as the basis for O'Hanlon's scale - but there's not a single thing in that Index that equates to this "It goes to Eleven!" scale nor is there any methodology for such a scale. Without that methodology, O'Hanlon's op-ed is just so much wasted ink.