Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Book Analysis and Notes: Losing Iraq

I finished reading Losing Iraq and put up some notes. I had low expectations for this, and was actually pleasantly surprised by the material on the Kurds. The rest was plain vanilla, but at least it was well written.

My basic questions going in:

- How well prepared at the outset does the author think we were? Does he put stock in the joint planning committee work? I've heard that panned in numerous contexts.

Answer: I got the sense that Phillips blamed the lack of pre-war planning and particularly the lack of a reality-based concept of Iraqi government. He didn't condemn the opposition comittee, but he didn't try to hide the fact that it was basically useless. That's in contravention to the myth that the State Department had all these great plans that the DOD tossed. Not to excuse the DOD, who were operating in fantasy land.

- What does he consider the worst errors, and who was responsible?


1) Cheney and his people, for assuming authority but not responsibility over the opposition groups, and generally making things worse.

2) Chalabi, for lying about his support in Iraq.

3) Zalmay Khalizad, for preventing Iran from playing a legitimate role in Iraq early on when it could have made a difference.

Phillips cited an Iraqi academic as being a smart guy, I'll see if I can find anything he wrote post-war.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Book Analysis and Notes: Social Life of Information

I've added some notes on the Social Life of Information, by Brown and Duguid. I still don't really remember why my Dad recommended it. The book had a lot of goodness, showing how social context and interactions affect the absorption of information, and that the internet can't be all things to all people because of this. There is also a certain amount of jargon (deconstructing the 6 D's) that I didn't care about.

Mostly I felt a lot of nostalgia for the 90's while reading this- a time of near infinite possibility and no fear.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Cause and Effect: MN Bridge Collapse

I saw two good columns reflecting on the bridge collapse in Minnesota. Stephen Flynn lays out the numbers on underinvestment in infrastructure in the US. Arnaud de Borchgrave points out the obvious fact that we've been sending tons of money to Iraq that could have been put to use here.