First, there's the opinion of someone who actually has the right to have an opinion:
Green Zone Blinders
By Jonathan Finer
Saturday, August 18, 2007; Page A13
Late last month the Brookings Institution's Kenneth Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon, just back from a quick trip to Baghdad, proclaimed in the New York Times that "we are finally getting somewhere in Iraq." In June, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, fresh from his latest whirlwind tour of the war zone, described in the Wall Street Journal a "dramatic reversal" in the security situation in restive Anbar province. As Washington anticipates a September report assessing the troop surge, there is good reason to be skeptical of such snapshot accounts.
A dizzying number of dignitaries have passed through Baghdad for high-level briefings. The Hill newspaper reported this month that 76 U.S. senators have traveled to Iraq during the war, 38 in the past 12 months. Most never left the Green Zone or other well-protected enclaves. Few, if any, changed the views they held before arriving...
The Brookings pair, self-described in their Times op-ed as "two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration's miserable handling of Iraq," are also longtime backers of the invasion and the recent troop surge. Before the war Pollack wrote a book subtitled "The Case for Invading Iraq," and he has found fodder for hope on every visit.
It goes without saying that everyone can, and in this country should, have an opinion about the war, no matter how much time the person has spent in Iraq, if any. But having left a year ago, I've stopped pretending to those who ask that I have a keen sense of what it's like on the ground today. Similarly, those who pass quickly through the war zone should stop ascribing their epiphanies to what are largely ceremonial visits.
The writer was a Post correspondent in Baghdad from May 2005 to July 2006. He is currently covering the Balkans for The Post.
And now you know what I mean by stenography.