Friday, August 14, 2009

Measuring Progress

"'Every quantitative measurement we have shows we are winning the war,' said Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara...All the indicators are good: enemy killed, weapons captured, chieu hoi (defectors) returned..."

Ward Just, To What End

This misplaced, perverse optimism continued for years, reinforced by one set of facts. According to these indicators, there was always progress, things going in the right direction. Certainly this defines what we mean by cognitive mistakes in addition to disasterous groupthink.

"What is the quantitative measurement of passive resistance?"

[Westmoreland]...never predicted when the war would end, nor would he forecast the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end, of when the corner would be turned, or if, indeed, there was a corner."

This morning NPR quoted Richard Holbrooke as saying "we'll know success when we see it" about Afghanistan.

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