I hear about these conservative bloggers, but I almost never run across them. The one exception is Uncle Bob, who posts on the Object Mentor blog; I read that for the software development insights (and Uncle Bob knows much more about that than I do, believe me), but Uncle Bob also posts on politics there. (Which are easy to avoid from the URLs, should you so desire.)

Interesting to dip into occasionally, though I wouldn’t want to do so very often. The most recent post to catch my eye: Lies, Damn Lies, and Democrats. “The notion that the President purposely misled congress by manipulating intelligence is ridiculous and specious.” Hmm; can’t say that I agree with you there. “Congress had access to the same information that the President did.” Well, no: Congress doesn’t have the same access to intelligence agencies that the President does, and it certainly doesn’t have the same ability to influence intelligence agencies to spin their results. And it’s not like the President enthusiastically shares information: he puts out only that information that suits his purpose. Having said that, it’s hard to argue with “Congress voted for the war, and enthusiastically agreed with the mission.” Despite the president’s best efforts, Congress had enough information at the time to strongly suspect that going to war was a bad idea. Democrats still have a lot to apologize for on that front. (And many others, but that’s a separate blog post.)

One of his earlier posts, Are Agile Methods Leftist, complains against a facile linking of software development methods with politics, and rightly so. Having said that, some aspects of agile methodologies could be used in other fields, should you choose to do so. I don’t know enough about planning for the Iraq conquest to be able to divide it up into a sequence of timeboxed iterations/releases, with specific goals linked to acceptance tests. I guess the first iteration would have been to conquer Iraq, the acceptance test being that Saddam Hussein is overthrown. And we did that, and did it faster than I thought we would.

Now we’re in the middle of a sequence of iterations; the acceptance test there is for Iraq to be a self-governing democracy. I’ll admit up front that I think the notion of imposing democracy at the point of a gun barrel is self-contradictory; having said that, my understanding is that we basically did just that in a few countries after WWII, quite successfully, and I certainly applaud the goal of a democratic Iraq.

But: agile methods tell us to timebox our iterations; and if it looks like getting the desired results is unexpectedly difficult, then the customer should take that new information into account, and may change the plans if desired. So when I see the government constantly saying things like “we’ve turned the corner”, making claims that we’ve achieved milestones that, in retrospect, seem hollow, forcing semblances of democratic events to happen without substance behind them, and overriding the judgment of military and intelligence professionals, it doesn’t sound to me like a way to run a project of any sort. If that were a software project, it would be one of the ones that was “95% done” for years on end, with the programmers driven at the lash to meet unrealistic deadlines, and ultimately cancelled with nothing to show for it. (Other than its potentially ruinous cost, even in the software case; the costs in the war case are, of course, much higher.)

And his last paragraph:

We can not back down. We can not cut and run. We can not tell the enemy when we are leaving. And we can not play politics with this war.

The first two sentences sound to me like a customer shielding himself off from honest progress reports in a project. To the third sentence, I’ll just say that he has a different notion of “the enemy” than I do; while we are now the enemy of the Iraqi people, they shouldn’t be considered as our enemy, and if he thinks that we’re hurting Al Qaeda by staying in Iraq, he’s reading different news sources than I am. (Which is clearly the case.) And, as far as “play politics with this war” goes, the entire blog post is playing politics with the war, casting substantive disagreements solely in political terms! But apparently people with the wrong point of view are the only ones playing politics; people with the right point of view would never dream of such a thing, even as they directly politically attack their opponents…

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