Man Without Qualities

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Sometimes People Are Smarter Than You Think

Fox News television is reporting a new poll that shows lots of support for the Iraq war, and also shows a substantial supermajority think that the amount of resistance the Iraqis are putting up is about what should have been expected. It seems to me that this is obviously correct. (About 15% think the Iraqis are putting up both more and less resistance than expected.) And the Pentagon has been giving this "about what was expected" line this right along - even as much of the media declared that resistance was unexpectedly high. Of course, the amount of resistance is unexpectedly high compared to the premature and overly optimistic reports and conclusions those media were reaching and reporting at the end of last week.

Another foolish error the media seems to be making repeatedly is this: When the coalition takes steps to allow or cause a beneficial (if low probability) event to occur, the media seem to report or suggest that the coalition was counting on that event. Hence the reports that the early attempt on Saddam Hussein's life failed, Failed ... FAILED, I TELL YOU! Then negotiations to allow the Republican Guard to surrender without a fight. Then civilian uprisings. And on and on and on ...

The results are strange. The coalition seems loathe to release positive news – perhaps because they are concerned that another optimism bubble like last week’s will foam up, to be followed by the same kind of preposterous bursting of the bubble based on equally insubstantial evidence (such as a non-com driving some jeep taking a wrong turn – thereby calling the entire war strategy into question).

Rumsfeld’s interview suggested a man trying to keep a hot gas in a bottle.

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