Friday, September 26, 2003

Instapundit links in passing to a striking report from a Marine with the unit that has just finished handing Najaf over to the Spanish peacekeepers. Remember the furor over the Imam Ali Mosque bombing, and the worries about Shia militias reforming? Been left with the impression that things are still degenerating in Najaf?

It seems that the ex-Ba'athist Najaf security director removed by the Coalition for corruption has confessed to planning the bombing, that the Shia militias have stepped down in favor of an authorized shrine police detachment, and that Najaf is calmer then it was *before* the bombing.

I search in vain for Washington Post or New York Times articles on these rather vital precursors to the otherwise surprising handover to the Spanish earlier this week. The second-rung papers and ABC have articles covering the shrine police deployment; hell, even al Jazeera has a more-or-less positive article on it. The Post, the New York Times, CNN, and the BBC are busy with other matters. Vital matters. Like chasing their tails over WMD, gnawing away at administration half-scandals, and rattling around in Baghdad. Conservatives can't be too proud, though. I can't find any reference on Fox News to the shrine police deployment, either.

This is important because *context* gives perspective. Cover only the failures and we're only going to learn from failure. Failure is important; learning from failure is vital. But it is possible to learn how to fail brilliantly if you only study failure. Najaf looked like it was going to pieces after the bombing; why didn't it? If the majors don't do follow-up, and go chasing after the next rain of gore and horror, we don't get the positive feedback that can help us understand what will work. Elsewise we have to work from first principles in the aftermath of every new disaster.

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