"The wrong metric"

Gen. Peter Pace says public opinion -- Iraqi public opinion, anyway -- matters more than the death toll.


Tim Grieve
June 22, 2007 6:22PM (UTC)

Just hours after the U.S. military reported that 14 more American troops had been killed in Iraq, outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Peter Pace said Thursday that "if you're trying to define" the success of the surge "in terms of level of violence, you've really put yourself on the wrong metric."

"It isn't about X number today, Y number tomorrow, because the enemy gets a chance to vote in that," Pace explained. "He will take a look at what you're measuring and try to defeat that measurement, so to speak."

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So what is the right "metric" for measuring the success of the surge? Pace said that "the metric really should be for Iraqi citizens: Do they feel better about their lives today than they did yesterday? And do they think they're going to feel better about their lives tomorrow than they do today?"

The general continued: "If you had zero violence and people were not feeling good about their future, where are you? So it's not about levels of violence. It's about progress being made in fact in the minds of the Iraqi people, so they have confidence in their government, in the way forward."

Pace didn't say how Gen. David Petraeus and his troops might measure that particular "metric." Will the next "surge" into Iraq involve air-dropping pollsters from Gallup into Baghdad and Basra and Baquba, where they can put the right-track/wrong-track question to the local residents? And if the pollsters there get numbers like the pollsters here get -- in the latest Newsweek poll, 68 percent of Americans say they're dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States -- does that mean that the surge has failed?


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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