O’Hanlon Grades Himself On Iraq: ‘I Give Myself A Score Of 7 Out Of 10’

ohanlon2831.jpgIn an op-ed in the National Interest today, Brookings analyst Michael O’Hanlon responded to Salon’s Glenn Greenwald’s criticisms of his and the media’s often wrong portrayals of the Iraq war. O’Hanlon said that his work has “generally” been “proven right.”

O’Hanlon provided a “brief evaluation” of his “track record.” Continuing his penchant for inflating the grades of war supporters, he remarked: “Grading my own homework, I give myself a score of 7 out of 10. Whether that is a good or bad grade is in the mind of the beholder.” This self-praise, however, overlooks much of what O’Hanlon has written and said about Iraq over the years. A few highlights:

O’Hanlon today: “Prediction that the occupation/stabilization mission would be long and challenging: correct.”

— “The United States and coalition partners would win any future war to overthrow Saddam Hussein in a rapid and decisive fashion. This will not be another Vietnam or another Korea.” [9/25/02]

— “In all likelihood, the war will culminate in a battle for Baghdad starting anywhere from five days to two weeks after bombs begin to fall. The war could be over within a month. … the battle for Baghdad will almost surely not last more than a week or two.” [3/18/03]

O’Hanlon today: “I believe Ken Pollack and I have been generally proven right by events—especially since we did not overstate by arguing that Iraq was calm, or that a good outcome was within easy reach.”

— “Here’s why things are going well and why they will soon go even better.” [3/28/03]

— “I would say that the main surprise for me was probably that one could travel around the country, even flying over contested areas, with relatively confident sense of security. … [Y]ou’re talking about specific, isolated acts [of violence] just like you would get in an American city.” [9/28/03]

O’Hanlon said his belief in 2004 that a withdrawal “would help matters” was “probably wrong.” And in a classic “incompetence dodge,” O’Hanlon criticized President Bush: “It was very hard to realize how shoddy this preparation was, looking from the outside, but I wish I had dug deeper and pressed harder.”

In O’Hanlon’s eyes, a history of rosy assessments adds up to a “7 out of 10.” Ironically, he concluded the op-ed by recommending that journalists and analysts should “occasionally scrutiniz[e] one’s own work for accuracy, consistency, rigor and care.”


Greenwald responds to O’Hanlon’s op-ed, writing, “This dismissive treatment is reflective of the ongoing effort by the pro-war establishment to whitewash their responsibility for what they have done.”

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