[EDITORIALS]Inadequate Iraq evaluation

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[EDITORIALS]Inadequate Iraq evaluation

The debate over the report issued by the Iraq survey team is becoming more heated. With the team’s report that Mosul, in northern Iraq, where our troops would likely be stationed, is stable, a civilian member of the team has raised objections, citing an inadequacy of research. Groups opposing the troop dispatch are also expressing concern. The team members’ conflicting arguments on such basic facts as whether they surveyed the city on foot or not, is leaving the public confused.
The deplorable thing is not that the team has done an inadequate job in their survey, but that they are distorting facts for partisan purposes. Instead of an objective and strict evaluation, they are including facts that reflect the opinion of their affiliated group, and instigating the public by exaggerating the advantageous aspects. This is only deepening hostilities rather than uniting national opinion.
The biggest responsibility in this conflict of interest lies with the Ministry of National Defense. First, there was a problem in the composition of the survey team. It should have included specialists, but because the ministry was sensitive to external pressure, it formed the team by considering whether members had a positive or negative position on the issue. This was wrong from the start.
The field survey had problems as well. To determine whether or not to dispatch troops, the team should have conducted a thorough and comprehensive review, but there is the impression that this was a perfunctory survey. Also, if the team members had conflicting opinions, they should have coordinated their arguments before making any announcements. But the ministry and civilian groups made contradicting reports, which poses the question: Whom are we to believe?
The Japanese government has sent survey teams to Iraq more than 10 times, and an assistant minister-level official resides in the area to understand conditions in the country. In contrast, our government officials cannot escape the criticism that they have been too careless. The Defense Ministry must quickly gain a handle on the situation so that the people will no longer be confused. If needed, we must dispatch more survey teams.

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