Prof. Siegfried Hartcroft teaches an interesting course. He is an expert in "connecting the dots."

It is an important science, because connecting the dots is the only way of finding out how we are doing in the world.

I found Hartcroft working at a large blackboard.

"Anything new?" I asked him.

"The draft Iraqi constitution. The writers decided to bypass the Sunnis and have a referendum."

"That is good?"

"The dots don't connect because the Sunnis are not included in the government."

"That's not what President Bush says."

"He's just putting the best face on it. He always says the dots connect everything in Iraq. We in the political science business call it 'Dubya's wishful thinking.' "

I looked at the blackboard. "I see the dots don't connect in the northern part of the country."

"You have to think of Iraq as the key domino in that part of the world. Up here are the Kurds. They have the oil. But Turkey is fearful of them because the Iraqi Kurds could unite with Turkey's Kurds.

"Down here are the Shiites, who also have oil. They are supported by the Iranians over here. The dots don't connect in the middle because that is where the Sunnis are, and they don't have any oil."

"Allah is punishing them?" I asked.

"Allah, and the Kurds and Shiites. The Sunnis were in charge under Saddam Hussein and they did terrible things to the Kurds. Now it's payback time. That's why the dots don't connect."

"Where are the coalition forces?"

"They're all over the map, trying to keep the peace. The problem is that the insurgency is also all over the map, car-bombing allied forces and the Iraqi police and politicians who are trying to write a constitution."

"At this rate, you're going to run out of dots," I said.

He picked up his pointer. "Now this is Syria. The insurgents come from there, and also from Jordan. The al Qaeda cells enter from Saudi Arabia and are very dangerous."

"Something has to connect. This is worse than Vietnam," I told him.

"It's because in Iraq you fight the enemy street by street, home by home. The tanks and planes don't have the same impact as hand-to-hand fighting."

"If we believe what Secretary Rumsfeld says, we will prevail, and as soon as the Iraqis are able to defend themselves, our boys can come home."

The professor said, "But he never mentions the lack of armor under the Hummers."

I said, "If you were secretary of defense, would you?"

The blackboard was a mess. The dots were scattered all over it, but none of them were connected.

"Is this the worst you've seen it?" I asked.

He replied, "It's the worst in my teaching career. I'm going to write a book titled the 'Dot Society Quagmire.' I may get a Nobel Prize for it."

I asked, "Will it help President Bush in his fight against terrorism?"

The professor said, "I doubt it. He still believes in the 'Mission Accomplished' theory. Some people think he's dotty."

(c) 2005 Tribune Media Services