Cost of a Kagan: Metrics of the War in Iraq

Since there seems to be some disagreement about whether Iraq is doing well or poorly, I thought I’d come up with a few metrics that it could use. I believe the administration can compute any of these with the information it already has.

1. Cost of protecting Kagans and/or other cheerleaders in Iraq per minute spent outside the Green Zone and/or a US military base. It seems there’s a steady stream of congresscritters and others showing up in Iraq. If things are improving, the costs of keeping them safe as they check out the latest success story (the new one seems to be the Dora market) should be decreasing – less troops, equipment, and preparation are needed. On the other hand, if things are getting worse, costs are increasing.

2. Number of foreign correspondents living in Iraq outside the Green Zone and/or military bases. For a correspondent, the utility function of being anywhere is a positive function of the amount of story in the place, and a negative function of the likelihood of getting killed. Since there’s definitely a story in Iraq, the big determinant of this number is the probability of getting killed.

3. Cost of keeping a member of the Iraqi government alive. This one is self-explanatory.

4. Speed at which a congresscritter, a Kagan, or other cheerleader, if mistakenly left behind by an armored convoy in a random location of Baghdad, heads back in the direction of safety. Most of these folks seem to be somewhat out of shape, so anything faster than a stroll or amble is a sign that things are not good.

Anyway, that’s what comes quickly to mind for me. What metrics can you think of?