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Tilting at Windmills

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August 23, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE SURGE....Is the surge working? That is, even if you ignore the lack of political progress, are we even making tactical progress? Since violence in Iraq tends to be seasonal, the only reasonable comparison is one between summer 2006 and summer 2007, so I went to the latest Brookings Iraq Index to check out the most recent numbers.

No figures are available for August, and the surge wasn't completely up and running until June, so the best comparison is between June/July 2006 and June/July 2007. I'm not pretending this is conclusive or anything, but the news sure doesn't look very good. The two tables below tell the story.

Violence Metrics

June/July
2006

June/July
2007


Change

Iraqi Military and Police Killed

349

429

Up 23%

Multiple Fatality Bombings

110

82

Down 25%

# Killed in Mult. Fatality Bombings

885

1,053

Up 19%

Iraqi Civilians Killed
(All violent causes)

6,739

5,300

Hard to say1

U.S. Troop Fatalities

104

187

Up 80%

U.S. Troops Wounded

983

1,423

Up 45%

Size of Insurgency

20,000+

~70,0002

Up ~250%

Attacks on Oil and Gas Pipelines

8

143

Up 75%

1Methodology changed dramatically between 2006 and 2007, so numbers are highly suspect.
2Number is for March 2007.
3Numbers are for June only. No July numbers are available.

Infrastructure Metrics

June/July
2006

June/July
2007


Change

Diesel Fuel Available

26.7 Ml

20.7 Ml

Down 22%

Kerosene Available

7.08 Ml

6.3 Ml

Down 11%

Gasoline Available

29.4 Ml

22.2 Ml

Down 24%

LPG Available

4,936 tons

4,932 tons

Down 0.1%

Electricity Generated

8,800 Mwatts

8,420 Mwatts

Down 4%

Hours Electricity Per Day

11.7

10.14

Down ~14%

4No numbers available for June/July. Figure is extrapolated from May and August numbers.

Kevin Drum 5:43 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (120)

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Comments

So, of course the administration will use "Multiple Fatality Bombings" as the appropriate metric for "success."

Posted by: Bush Lover on August 23, 2007 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent post. Tangible realism. One of your best. Notice they talk of "metrics."
Well, you offered them.
Thank you for this important contribution.

Posted by: consider wisely always on August 23, 2007 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

The only metrics that matter:

Probability of handing this tar baby off to the Democrats and making a clean getaway in January of 2009 -- up 100%.

Likelihood that the 2010 and 2012 elections will both become become brain-dead referenda on "Who Lost Iraq" -- up 100%. (Hint, the answer is whichever poor Democratic bastard gets to win the poisoned chalice in 2008.)

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on August 23, 2007 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Drum: Is the surge working?

Show the chart to HRC. She says it's working!

Posted by: Econobuzz on August 23, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

No no NO! It's working I tells ya! Bushie and Cheney and Lieberman say so!

Posted by: Tom Stewart on August 23, 2007 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

But as Bill Kristol will tell you, the only metric that really matters is the morale of the U.S. troops, and he says it's improved.

Touché!

Posted by: Quiddity on August 23, 2007 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, but recently dead people as a percentage of the total number of people killed in the conflict is on a downward trend.

Posted by: B on August 23, 2007 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Wait...what? There's a war going on in Iraq right now? Between who? And who's winning?

Posted by: Lev on August 23, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Drum: Is the surge working? Show the chart to HRC. She says it's working! Posted by: Econobuzz

Brian Baird, one of Washington's Dem reps, was interviewed on NPR yesterday also taking the "wait and see" attitude. The difference being is that he at least voted against the invasion and just made his 6th or 8th trip to Iraq.

Posted by: JeffII on August 23, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

These numbers are highly suspect on your part. I question where you got them. Were they massaged?

Frankly, I find it hard to believe. It runs counter to everything the experts, politicians and those in the no are telling us. There was recently a Brookings (liberal) op-ed in the NYT (liberal.) The op-ed was based on on-the-ground experience. They said that morale of the US troops was high. Violence is down 80%. The sunni shieks have left the insurgence and will soon join the government.

So excuse me if I'm a little skepticle when a blogger pulls some numbers out of the air and tries to pass it off as some kind of conclusive assessment.

Posted by: egbert on August 23, 2007 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Show the chart to HRC. She says it's working!

Actually, no. She didn't.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on August 23, 2007 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

...those in the no...

that's why we love you, egbert. How's it going in boot camp, by the way?

Posted by: thersites on August 23, 2007 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

I have trouble with Metrics. Condi, can't you make them use feet and pounds?

Posted by: GW Bush on August 23, 2007 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

This was a setup from the very beginning.

Claiming that the surge is not "working" is tantamount to attacking Petraeus and the troops. That's why HRC was one of the first dems to say that it was indeed "working."

Just like she said that we're "safer" now than before 9/11.

Posted by: Econobuzz on August 23, 2007 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

If it was up to me, every last politician that makes one of these sojourns would have to stay for 15 months and go on patrol. No regular showers, no air conditioning, no special security…if they want to know the score from the "boots on the ground" they can fucking live it like a soldier, or stay their asses at home. (Full post here. /blogwhoring)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on August 23, 2007 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the only Iraq spreadsheet that matters.

Posted by: Furious on August 23, 2007 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

egbert, you fucking moron, those numbers are from Brookings. They updated their "Iraq Index" int he wake of Mikey and Kenny returning from their little jaunt - that was, by the way, more tightly controlled than a senior citizen super-saver tour of Rome.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on August 23, 2007 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

Show the chart to HRC. She says it's working!
Actually, no. She didn't.

Bullshit. The surge INCLUDES the fucking strategy and tactics. More of her hairsplitting bullshit.

Do you thing Americans differentiate between the surge and the tactics used in the surge?

Posted by: Econobuzz on August 23, 2007 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Er, no, Econobuzz, she said that it had shown some results in Anbar Province - Please do not fall for the "cut-off" line from the Repugs and the Hillary haters.

JeffII, did you read the article in the Olympian about Baird? Have not checked the Columbian from Vancouver for it's coverage.

And, Kevin, fine thread, but, when will you post a thread about the on-coming train wreck in California concerning the Initiative which the Repugs are pushing? This wil change California from a winner take all state. Senator Boxer has written about this at HuffPo - The Today Show covered it this morning - Hardball ran two different segments about it, today. Hasn't slipped past those Border Guards in Irvine, yet?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on August 23, 2007 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

The real question is;
Are we any closer to convincing the American People that this is a major catastrophic clusterfuck of epic proportions?

Are we?

The answer is: as long as jerk offs like Rush Limbaugh can go on the air and tell people that Iraq is safer than Washington DC - (a bald-faced LIE, there's no way to spin that.) - then, the answer is emphatically NO - we are no closer to success, and in September, when Petraeus comes home and reads the report Karl Rove puts in front of him, and everyone gives him the little golf-clap, and Bush asks for another $100 Billion, and Lieberman gives Hillary that cold "don't you fucking *dare* stab our troops in the back!" look, and Hillary shrugs, and signs another blank check for Bush - we're just going to keep on talking about it while people die, and anything once resembling a strong American middle class is utterly destroyed as Bush borrows us into oblivion in an effort to prevent Iraqi oil from ever being pumped out into the market.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on August 23, 2007 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

The violence is notable, the government non-functioning, and the president is confabulating...
as we say in the business.
Pleased to see our US Senator Bob Casey pointed this out, in terms of newsworthy headlines
"The debate on the cable shows and the debate in Washington is missing the whole point--the surge can't be considered successful unless there is progress with the government. You can point to military success here and there, but if the government isn't making progress, by definition, the surge isn't working because that's the objective, to allow for a functioning government."

We voted Casey in to replace Bush apologist Rick Santorum...
Casey further maintained that Bush's arguments against time tables were wrong because "unless you force the Iraqis to confront those basic questions...we're going to be there for many years and not just many months."
More realism. Indeed. As needed.
Casey said "I wish the president would get out of the business of trying to defeat Democratic arguments by suggesting win or lose arguments that don't apply here."
Right on.

Posted by: consider wisely always on August 23, 2007 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

The six year-old egbert really should ask his parents before getting on the computer with the grown-ups. It appears to be a confusing and upsetting experience for him when we discuss things like "facts" and "reality".

Posted by: jonas on August 23, 2007 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent work, Kevin Drum. Just the kind of timely, wonky goodness your readers value.

I'm sure conservatives will be thrilled with the evidence that we are making such excellent progress. Imagine how bad these birth pangs of a new nation would have been without the Surge, eh!

Posted by: PTate in FR on August 23, 2007 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's metrics are useful. However, the harm done by the enemy is only half the story. One must also look at harm done by us and our allies to the enemy.

It's like a report of football game that included the number of points scored by one team only.

Posted by: ex-liberal on August 23, 2007 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

You nailed it, FAUX-Lib - Body count, by all means - Westmoreland would be soooo proud of you, son.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on August 23, 2007 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

So insurgency size is seasonal? You need to assume too much to believe that comparing these numbers yields any useful information.

Posted by: Frank J. on August 23, 2007 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

Er, no, Econobuzz, she said that it had shown some results in Anbar Province - Please do not fall for the "cut-off" line from the Repugs and the Hillary haters.

Posted by: thethirdPaul

To the average Joe, "some" results (from the surge and its tactics) in Anbar Province is tantamount to "working." It is absolutely NOT consistent with a position that the surge is not working.

This is the kind of double-speak and hairsplitting that has led HRC and the dems to a position where there is now literally NO substantive difference between them and Bush on what to do in Iraq.

To the average Joe, we're going to be there just as long with her in the White House as with any of the repug candidates.

Posted by: Econobuzz on August 23, 2007 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure conservatives will be thrilled with the evidence that we are making such excellent progress.

Posted by: PTate in FR

To them, the chart shows a draw or improvement in about 15% of the cases!

Posted by: Econobuzz on August 23, 2007 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Ex-lib, the moron said: "One must also look at harm done by us and our allies to the enemy."

Kevin Drum provided: Size of Insurgency 20,000+ ~70,000 Up ~250%

Yeah, that's harm. Can someone harm my bank account in the same way?

Posted by: F. Frederson on August 23, 2007 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Ex-lib makes a useful point, if only because it allows us to see the flawed thinking in the neocon view of all this: Which enemy? The Sunni insurgents? Oh, that's right. They're supposedly on our side now fighting Al Qaeda. Except when they're fighting us. Shiite militas? Whoops, they're all in the police forces we're training and arming. Al Qaeda? This is just a name made up to describe a motley crew of Iraqi and (small number of) foreign jihadists who are more intent on blowing themselves up than getting killed by our troops. That leaves Iranian agents, I suppose, which is why the AEI crew is talking so much about that these days. It's the only tangible "enemy" they have left to talk about. On top of this, all the things that this shifting, nebulous "enemy" does to us and the Iraqi people, like blow up infrastructure, is way up since last year. Of course that's when conservatives always fall back on the bizarre "attacks are up because they know they're losing, so they're desperate." I don't know why the hell that makes any sense to any sentient human, but there you go. In that case, the surge is certainly a sign of Bush's desperation in what he knows is a lost cause.

Posted by: jonas on August 23, 2007 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly, Jonah. Maliki's party is allied with the Shi'ite groups he claims he wants to diminish.

Posted by: consider wisely always on August 23, 2007 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

This is simply great, Kev. I am impressed. Not seen ANYTHING as clear as this in a long time.

I congratulate you. Wonderfully clear and compelling statistics.

Posted by: POed Lib on August 23, 2007 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Kevin's metrics are useful. However, the harm done by the enemy is only half the story. One must also look at harm done by us and our allies to the enemy."

If you ever needed an example of the brain-dead nature of the neo-incompetent moron, this is it.

Look, dildo-nose, no one cares about that shit, shithead. We care about how many dead americans there are. We care about how badly we are getting it.

I don't give a flying fuck about that other shit. How many times in the last 4 years have we killed the "Number 2 al qaeda leader" Well, DUMB-FUCK moron, that's called a BATTLEFIELD promotion for al qaeda # 3, and a recruitment poster for thousands more al qaeda.

And for your education, I suggest reading about the Labors of Hercules, Labor # 2. That's us in Iraq - Labor #2.

Why are you Repukeliscum so fucking stupid?

Posted by: POed Lib on August 23, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

thethirdPaul: [sarcastically] Body count, by all means - Westmoreland would be soooo proud of you, son.

According to ttP, body count is a bad measure when I suggest it. But, body count is an appropripate measure when Kevin reports Number of US Troop fatalities, Iraqi military and police killed, Iraq civilians killed, US Troops wounded, and number of Multiple Fatality Bombings.

Posted by: ex-liberal on August 23, 2007 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

This is simply great, Kev.

Posted by: POed Lib

Agreed.

But the really depressing thing here is that HRC's staff -- certainly one of the best ever assembled -- has these same statistics, and apparently feels that there is no percentage in publicly drawing the conclusion that is so obvious and compelling to all of us: that the surge has failed miserably BOTH POLITICALLY AND MILITARILY.

DEPRESSING!

Posted by: Econobuzz on August 23, 2007 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

No one said that there would be math.

Posted by: R.L. on August 23, 2007 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

"These numbers are highly suspect on your part. I question where you got them. Were they massaged?
Frankly, I find it hard to believe. It runs counter to everything the experts, politicians and those in the no are telling us.
"

ANOTHER DUMB-FUCK MORON checks in.

If there is one thing we know about Iraq, it is this: The "experts", bozo-brain, have been wrong from the beginning. ANYONE who claims to know ANYTHING about Iraq has been WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. So, you now say these figures contradict the experts? THE EXPERTS ARE WRONG, AGAIN, BRAIN-DEAD MORON. I exempt Anthony Condesman from this blanket condemnation, and a few other skeptics. But anyone named Kagan should be taken out to the desert and left to rot.

Why are conservaturds so fucking stupid?

Posted by: POed Lib on August 23, 2007 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

F. Frederson,

That -70,000 footnote is strange - In the footnote, it says, "Estimate is of Sunni insurgents only - It comes from an analyst employed by the U.S. military and it includes "hard line operators" as well as "part time supporters".

Posted by: thethirdPaul on August 23, 2007 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Last post on this I promise.

Can anyone imagine the repugs having a table like that and not finding some way to use it against Bill Clinton?

Posted by: Econobuzz on August 23, 2007 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

The wheels are coming off of the Bush train, but Fox refuses to see the truth through the myopia of lies. I am constantly amazed that so many continue to support this failed quagmire!

Posted by: fred on August 23, 2007 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

Well that's just fuzzy math....

Posted by: Stefan on August 23, 2007 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

Size of insurgency up 250%? No problem. I'm sure the high body counts are making up for it.

Posted by: HeavyJ on August 23, 2007 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

The only thing that this excellent spreadsheet leaves out is the EXPENDITURE. I believe that we are spending 100 % more this summer than last.

We are spending somewhere upwards of $ 12 billion a month. Last summer, it was about $4-6 billion. I will be charitable and go 6 billion to 12 billion.

100 % increase in cost, 2006->2007

Posted by: POed Lib on August 23, 2007 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know why I keep jumping back in here, but ex-lib is so fucking dense, I can't stand it. Let me spell it out slowly. Body counts -- if ever -- would only be relevant if we were fighting the land army of an enemy nation-state whose members wore uniforms and whose resources and population we knew and from which we could extrapolate its fighting potential. For the last time, IRAQI INSURGENTS ARE NOT THE WEHRMACHT. (Neither were the Viet Cong, for that matter, which is why body counts were so idiotic in Vietnam as well). Traditional war doctrines do not apply to Iraq, where we long ago squandered any opportunity of effectively applying counterinsurgency techniques. So turn off the damn History Channel and quit thinking like a video-game addled 13 year-old.

Posted by: jonas on August 23, 2007 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Ex-Liberal's points remind me of this:

... Bush appeared before military brass to sign a new $417 billion defense appropriation bill. Referring to the country's enemies, Bush said, "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

Posted by: consider wisely always on August 23, 2007 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

But the really depressing thing here is that HRC's staff -- certainly one of the best ever assembled -- has these same statistics, and apparently feels that there is no percentage in publicly drawing the conclusion

We need to take the BushDogs like Hillary and lead them to the light. I fought hard monetarily in 2006 to get a Democratic majority to end this fucking war, and I am fucking fucking FUCKING not gonna let these BushDogs back down now.

Posted by: POed Lib on August 23, 2007 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Body counts -- if ever -- would only be relevant if we were fighting the land army of an enemy nation-state whose members wore uniforms and whose resources and population we knew and from which we could extrapolate its fighting potential.

Stated elegantly.

The only thing that dead insurgents mean is 1) opportunities for battlefield promotions of more competent insurgents and 2) recruitment of new insurgents.

We have killed "al qaeda #2" at least 30 times. Amazingly, al qaeda #2 is still out there.

Posted by: POed Lib on August 23, 2007 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, POed Lib, wanna tone it down a bit? I may agree with you that ex-liberal and egbert are way wrong, but calling them stupid and brain dead and dropping about 20 f-bombs hardly makes your case. This is the kind of attitude I'd expect to see on LGF et al. I expect better from liberal commenters.

I give it about a 75% chance that you are a troll, trying to give O'Reilly some fodder for his next show.

As for ex-liberal, one problem with your proposed enemy body count metric is that the US military is keeping no such statistic. Another problem is that it's not generally so easy to tell if a body is an "enemy" or not. The enemy's ability to wage war is probably about as reasonable a metric as there is, and Kevin's statistics reflect this.

Posted by: Rob Mac on August 23, 2007 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone can play with numbers. Liars lie and liars figure.

I wonder if Democrats pulled out similar onesided statistics in 1973?

Posted by: egbert on August 23, 2007 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

scrambled egbert can't even get a cliche correct.

The adage is "figures don't lie, but liars figure."

And seriously, your disingenuous bullshit is growing extremely tiresome. You are of service age, so suit up or shut up. Punk.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on August 23, 2007 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

Of course it's working. Without The Surge™, those numbers would certainly be even higher.

Posted by: Martin Gale on August 23, 2007 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Words like "stupid" and "braindead'' are actually too kind, Rob Mac, considering that the trolls who come here are malevolent enablers of a criminal regime.

And who fucking cares what fucking O'Reilly thinks. What, is he going to put in a few good words for us liberals if we don't swear? Is he going to start supporting our cause?

Salty language, if you will, is a legitimate expression of righteous anger, and there's a whole goddamn shitload of Republican chicanery to be angry about, right now. If, in the face of overwhelming GOP evil, you still want to play polite, then I would assume you must be some triangulating centrist, i.e. you're not gonna be of any use here.

Got that, fucker?


Posted by: floppin' pauper on August 23, 2007 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Surge.

Feh.

A surge of dead bodies maybe.

Fucking assholes.

Posted by: angryspittle on August 23, 2007 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I drop the f-bomb frequently, but in today's world with that clueless moron Bush and his moronic brain-dead followers, my attitude is basically "If you ain't madder than you have ever been in your entire political life, you are a brain-dead moron."

Sorry if I have offended your well-honed sensibilities.

"I wonder if Democrats pulled out similar onesided statistics in 1973?" Well, pinhead, the answer is "no". But you too stupid to look it up.

The plain fact, and this is a fact, that the Repukeliscum like yourself are continual, habitual, deliberate liars, and the Democrats are not. We don't lie, and you do.

Posted by: POed Lib on August 23, 2007 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

Damnit, remember me so won't have to type in my damned name every fucking time I want to post a fucking thought.

Jeez.

Posted by: angryspittle on August 23, 2007 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Goddamnit, you did it again.

Posted by: abgryspittle on August 23, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Progress is hard to measure but here's the electricity figures from Aug. 2005:
Average daily electricity service increased again in the last week (August 9-15) to 103,100 MWh.
• Baghdad averaged 8.3 hours of available power per day. National average was 12 hours per day.
• Demand reached a new record high on August 15.

This is Aug. 2007: Daily electricity demand August 8-14 was 15 percent above the same period in 2006. Daily supply from the electricity grid was two percent below 2006;

Oh, and managing the grid with a strong central government isn't too good, either: Electricity supply August 8-13 was near its highest level for the year, but the failure of provinces to follow load-shedding directives resulted in a massive loss of power August 14 at 1700. All Baghdad generation and 60 percent of national generation was temporarily lost. Half of the lost power had been restored by midnight.

(Source: State Dept. Weekly Status Report)

Posted by: TJM on August 23, 2007 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone can play with numbers. Liars lie and liars figure.

I wonder if Democrats pulled out similar onesided statistics in 1973?

Well, at least we HAVE some numbers. What do you have? Oh, that's right, you conservatives don't DO numbers. Numbers are "liberal." What you do is analogies. To wit:

Fearless leader is now comparing Iraq to Vietnam, which he believes the US could have won if not for Uncle Walter and the liberal press.

I mean, for crying out loud, how can any of us write satire any more when the *Republicans* are appealing to Vietnam and claiming with a straight face that Vietnam prooves that fighting insurgencies with carpet bombing works?

Posted by: JohnN on August 23, 2007 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Of course the right-wingnuts will spew some garbage about "spreading democracy" and "purple thumbs", when they are , in fact, the greatest enemies of democracy in America.

Excellent statistics - hard to argue with. Thanks for the link, Kevin.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 23, 2007 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

POed lib: We have killed "al qaeda #2" at least 30 times. Amazingly, al qaeda #2 is still out there.

Well, it's simple. When we kill "al qaeda #2", "al qaeda #3" gets a promotion. Repeat as needed. Last year we had only 20,000 to go. This year, only 70,000 to go. Think "Sorcerer's Apprentice." It's the new way forward.

Posted by: thersites on August 23, 2007 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

Why, of COURSE it's working! Just LOOK how we've re-empowered the Iraqi people ... the militias, anyway:

Militias Seizing Control of Iraqi Electricity Grid
[The New York Times]

Armed groups increasingly control the antiquated switching stations that channel electricity around Iraq, the electricity minister said Wednesday.

That is dividing the national grid into fiefs that, he said, often refuse to share electricity generated locally with Baghdad and other power-starved areas in the center of Iraq.

The development adds to existing electricity problems in Baghdad, which has been struggling to provide power for more than a few hours a day because insurgents regularly blow up the towers that carry power lines into the city. ...

Posted by: Poilu on August 23, 2007 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Well, the oil reserves seem to be holding their own.
And I'm guessing that is the only metric that matters to Republicans and Hillary Clinton--who might as well be a Republican IMHO.

We need to end this nonsense now. Bush's fantasies and pride are unsustainable. This is a national disgrace. The simple fact is the nation cannot afford this. We are fighting the war with Chinese loans, truth be told. Where is the patriotism in that??

Posted by: Sparko on August 23, 2007 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

I have trouble with Metrics. Condi, can't you make them use feet and pounds?

ROFLMAO!~

Now I'll read the rest of the comments...

Posted by: elmo (Man of Action) on August 23, 2007 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

egbert: "Ah, Kevin. These numbers are highly suspect on your part. I question where you got them."

Why? Because they didn't get pulled from your ass?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on August 23, 2007 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

elmo (Man of Action)

Dude, in another lifetime, my boot would have been in your ass constantly. Of course, out of earshot, I would have been constantly chuckling.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on August 23, 2007 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe this is the first time any of you have heard of the Brookings Index. I've been following it for a long time now. Go look at the actual document--the curves and trends are more instructive than a couple of data points pulled out arbitrarily. The people who put it together are reasonably unbiased, but it's important to look as their sources.

I also can't believe people are surprised that violence increases during a major military push.

The Democratic Party is really up against the wall now. They bet everything on failure and defeat, and it's not looking all good for them right now.

By the way, are you people ever going to get tired of arguing indignantly with mindless sock puppets? People invented by you to make easy and stupid targets? Maybe a more accurate term would be "sock monkeys."

Posted by: elmendorf on August 23, 2007 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm, control is being reasserted in some limited ways with about 170,000 troops and 125,000 contractors.

Sounds almost like Shinseiki's estimated troop requirements.

But it's too late now that chaos was allowed to develop. Now, as in Vietnam, the only ground the US controls is under their exact footprint.

The fourth post-Saddam Iraq government is going down the drain. GWB looking for Saddam-lite.

Posted by: Neal on August 23, 2007 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Go away elmerdork. The Republicans bet everything on the brutalization of the Iraqi people and the American people have begun to realize that there were never any good reasons for us to be slaughtering Iraqis. The escalation was never meant to work and it hasn't. It has only increased the level of violence and added to the already bloody body count of George W. Bush's assault on a nation that was never a threat to our national security. The escalation was merely a way of helping to ensure that the responsibility for Bush's massive error would be passed on to his successor.

You are a vampire, a ghoul, a waste of flesh who would be better off if you never ever gave your opinion on anything in your lifetime - not on a blog post, not at the watercooler, and for god's sake not at the ballot box.

Posted by: heavy on August 23, 2007 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

What does working mean?

If you think, as I do, that what Bush is after is breaking the will of the Iraqis so that Iraq's parliament will pass the U.S. dictated oil law, uh, no, the surge is not working.

And until what Bush is really after (the oil) is talked about openly in MSM, we're going to be in Iraq through at least another Presidential cycle - no matter who wins in 2008.

Posted by: Maeven on August 23, 2007 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

elmendorf: By the way, are you people ever going to get tired of arguing indignantly with mindless sock puppets?

Probably not. Gotta have fun, after all. But a careful reading of all the comments, instead of just cherry-picking the responses to trolls, will show that we seem to spend as much, or even more, time arguing amongst ourselves.

Posted by: thersites on August 23, 2007 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

Yo, POed Lib, you didn't offend me. That would be pretty difficult. My point is that posts that do nothing but insult the opposition are worse the useless. There are lots of good arguments to use against the braindead morons of the world. Profanity is the fucking least of it.

Posted by: Rob Mac on August 23, 2007 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

I noticed you conveniently left off the number of new cell phone towers. Everyone knows that is the most important indicator. And number of nighttime and weekend minutes, of course.

Posted by: Orson on August 23, 2007 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

The "liberal" media is going to have a field day with facts like these! Right? Right? Hmmm. Not a word out of CNN, CBS, MSNBC, NBC, ABC..who else is liberal? Oh yeah, Joe Lieberman.

Posted by: Orson on August 23, 2007 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

Rob Mac -- clueless newbie, or concern troll?

*You* make the call.

Posted by: Disputo on August 23, 2007 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

And number of nighttime and weekend minutes, of course.

LMAO.

Thx. I needed that.

Posted by: Disputo on August 23, 2007 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Heh. "Elmendork." Did you write that one down on a Post-It when you thought of it?

You can skip my posts if they bother you that much. I'm well-aware of the Left's long history of shutting down opposition, but the idea of then making up shills to "argue" with is relatively recent. Kind of like arguing with a mirror, like a parakeet. An "echo chamber" in truth. Sorry I'm not the pushover "egbert" is. I don't mean to make you sweat. I suspect you do enough of that as it is.

[let me put your mind at ease - there is no sock-puppetry going on here. --Mod]

Posted by: elmendorf on August 23, 2007 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

Look idiot, you couldn't make a fat man sweat in the heat of Iraq. You don't bring anything to the table but the same tired RNC established talking points. If you had something to contribute that would be different, but instead you are simply attempting to enable further brutalization of the Iraqi people.

The difference between us is that I think of the Iraqi people as human beings and that the millions of displaced, the hundreds of thousands of wounded and the scores of thousands of dead (minimum) are victims of assholes like you who think they are "making the left sweat" by cheerleading for their death, disfigurement, and displacement.

I don't personally care about idiots like you except as you poison the discourse of Americans with your warmongering. That's why you should never speak again. Not because I want an echo chamber, but because I want the conversation limited to those who have a shred of decency.

Posted by: heavy on August 23, 2007 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

"The Democratic Party is really up against the wall now."

How many body bags has it been since your boy wonder's Mission Accomplished moment? How many billions of dollars? How many Friedman Units? When was the last time your boy wonder was in driving range of 50% approval ratings? Yet it's Democrats who are up against a wall. Your idiocy is boundless.

Posted by: junebug on August 23, 2007 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm well-aware of the Left's long history of shutting down opposition

Yeah, unlike the lively discussion in the comments section over at National Review.

Posted by: thersites on August 24, 2007 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and Elmerdork, you don't read so good. I also changed it so that it was an implied reference to Elmer Fudd, you remember, the lackwitted hunter trying to get Bugs Bunny?

Prove me wrong. Demonstrate that Bush's brutal invasion of Iraq, including his terrorist style attack on the city of Baghdad (Shock and Awe - bombs placed all over the city by cowards who would be miles away when they went off in an attempt to cow the populace into handing over their leader) was a response to a serious national security issue.

Until you can explain why we are brutalizing the Iraqi populace in the first place you aren't smart enough to debate the issue from your side. Everyone is entitled to an informed opinion. Yours isn't and should therefore be kept to yourself - especially, as I noted above, at the polls.

Posted by: heavy on August 24, 2007 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

After the third post, every other comment was irrelevant. The surge was domestic, political tactic disguised as a plan for Iraq.
The surge cowered Senate Dems and now ensures Bush walks away while troops are still in Iraq.
The last helicopter leaving the Green Zone will happen with a Democrat in the White House.
Congratulations Harry Reid.

Posted by: it's all domestic politics on August 24, 2007 at 6:15 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent post, Kevin.

I strongly encourage everyone to click through the link to look at the raw data that Brookings is reporting. Kevin's interpretation holds up to close scrutiny, but it's interesting to see what things look like once you widen your focus to include more months. You can pick out numbers to make things look better or worse by choosing particular months or statistics - many of the numbers jump around a lot from month to month. One stat to be particularly wary of is the number of troop fatalities. The numbers from August 2006 - January 2007 are: 72 - 106 - 69 - 113 - 83. March 2007 - July 2007 are: 81 - 103 - 123 - 109 - 78. It's not hard to see how you could pluck stats out to tell many different stories.

That said, if you pull back from the data and look for trends, nearly all of the stats seem to show two things: (1) that the absolute level of violence has increased a great deal since 2003-2004; and (2) the trend is uneven, but toward more violence.

There is one stat that does suggest some improvement in recent months - the total number of civilian deaths, which declined from 3000 in April to 2800 in July. I see that Kevin is skeptical of the July 2006 number because there has been a change in methodology. I'm less sure when that change happened. If the April numbers are trustworthy (and apples to apples) they would provide only faint comfort, but we, as the reality-based community, can't just blink it away.

Posted by: TedL on August 24, 2007 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter "ex-liberal" Bring on the body counts!

Posted by: Gregory on August 24, 2007 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Elmendorf,

Look at the actual data and you'll see that this isn't a simple issue of violence increasing during the recent escalation. Consider the fact that, while bombings are down by a quarter, the number of deaths due to those bombings have increased by nearly a fifth. That means terrorists appear to have gotten over 50 percent more efficient in a year in this area, going from 8 killed per bombing to 13 killed per bombing. Iraq has truly become a terrorist trainer's dream.

But we can play numbers games all day long. Since your nickname is Elmendorf, I'm guessing you've a military connection, so let's talk mission. The surge's declared purpose was to create "breathing room" to allow Iraqis to come together. Since it began, the Sunnis left the government and then the parliament took a month off. We are losing more troops every month (and that number is going up, despite small downticks) and yet Iraqis grow no closer to political reconciliation. The surge is a failure. Period.

Posted by: Nitpicker on August 24, 2007 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

"Condi, can't you get them to use feet and pounds?

Well, George, I'd have them use fingers and toes for you, but, most of them have been blown off.

Posted by: condi on August 24, 2007 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

One factor missing in your piece. Number of enemy killed/captured over time. Thats a critical metric needed to make an informed assessment.

Posted by: MJW on August 24, 2007 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

One factor missing in your piece. Number of enemy killed/captured over time. Thats a critical metric needed to make an informed assessment.

No, it isn't. The demonstrable failure of the US to achieve success in Iraq -- as these metrics prove -- means that the number of enemy killed or captured is irrelevant; however many it is, it isn't enough. We are not achieving the goal of hamstringing the insurgency or bringing stability to Iraq, period, full stop.

Body counts are only a "criticial metric" to give bloodthirsty neocons like "ex-liberal" some satisfaction and a spurious claim to the illusion of "progress."

Posted by: Gregory on August 24, 2007 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

and the scores of thousands of dead (minimum)

Try just under million Iraqi dead so far.

Posted by: Stefan on August 24, 2007 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

One factor missing in your piece. Number of enemy killed/captured over time. Thats a critical metric needed to make an informed assessment.

No, it's in the piece when you look at the number of rebels up from 20,000 last year to 70,000 this year, an increase of 250%.

So, apparently, we're creating rebels faster than we're killing them.

Posted by: Stefan on August 24, 2007 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin does qualify this as non conclusive, but it actually is ridiculous to take increases in "violence metrics" during the first two months of a enhanced military campaign as an indication it is not working. It is like stating the increased "violence metrics" during June 1944 or July 1863 showed the Allied invasion of Normandy or the Union at Gettysburg were failures.

Posted by: brian on August 24, 2007 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

Yes, and if you go to the actual report and read the footnote for that 70,000, which Kevin probably deleted because of space, it will state that this number is mostly Sunni - The Shiites are all simply schmoozing with us.

Gregory, like your work on ex-Lib Watch. Stay diligent.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on August 24, 2007 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

THere you go using facts again Kevin. Silly rabbit.

Posted by: ckelly on August 24, 2007 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

brian, everyone's favorite faux-reasonable concern troll -- who likes to pretend that the GOP's branding as "strong on defense" still means anything -- wrote: it actually is ridiculous to take increases in "violence metrics" during the first two months of a enhanced military campaign as an indication it is not working.

No, what's ridiculous is comparing two traiditional military conflicts by uniformed armies to an insurgency in general, and specifically a "surge" designed to reduce thje overall level of violence.

These metrics prove it isn't working. And, of course, the stated goal of the surge -- Iraqi leaders using the "breathing room" for political reconciliation -- is already a failure, no matter what bogus "signs of progress" authoritarian dipshits like you vill cite from the White house report to be read by Petraeus.

Posted by: Gregory on August 24, 2007 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

brian, try not to type. It only reveals what an idiot you are. Try this, when you think (who am I kidding)...before you start typing, take a deep breath and hold it. When you turn blue seek medical attention.

I'll give you the same challenge I would any moron who supports the brutalization of the Iraqis: explain why they need to die. If you can't demonstrate that Iraqis need to die in order to protect at least ten times their number from dying (hell, you can't even demonstrate their deaths prevent a 1:1 ratio of deaths), then you are simply cheerleading death for death's sake.

Posted by: heavy on August 24, 2007 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Bush said, "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

That was the last truthful statement W has ever spoken.

Posted by: ckelly on August 24, 2007 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

"The Democratic Party is really up against the wall now. They bet everything on failure and defeat, and it's not looking all good for them right now."

LOL.... Dear heart, you really do have trouble with facts and statistics, don't you? It's the Republican Party that's up against the wall, and will continue to be up against the wall in 2008. They bet everything on Bush and, as usual, he let them down. "The Surge" is an utter failure and no matter how much Bush spins these ays, the American public isn't buying it.

See you in 2008.

Posted by: PaulB on August 24, 2007 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

The Democratic Party is really up against the wall now.

Up really is down with you folks ain't it? The White House is backpedaling faster than a crawdad, marginalizing Petraeus and writing his report to their spin. Yes, the Dems are up against it. See you in '08.

Posted by: ckelly on August 24, 2007 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

I'm well-aware of the Left's long history of shutting down opposition

Got projection?

Posted by: ckelly on August 24, 2007 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

When you turn blue seek medical attention.

Or don't.

Posted by: ckelly on August 24, 2007 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

[IP check reveals banned commenter]

Posted by: Dogfucker_Cranston on August 24, 2007 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

To see why Kevin's criteria are insufficient, try the following thought experiment. Imagine that the US withdrew all troops and Iraq's army and police all deserted. That would be tantamount to surrender. The enemy would have won.

Yet, Kevin's criteria would show that we were winning, because there would be dramatic reductions in Iraqi Military and Police Killed, US Troop Fatalities, and US Troops wounded.

In fact, the opposite "paradox" is occurring now. US and Iraqi troops are fighting more aggressively since the surge began, and having substantial success, even though our aggresive battling means more casualties on our side.

Posted by: ex-liberal on August 24, 2007 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

"And the enemy will have won."

Ah, but which enemy? The rag tag few of al-Quada having to face both Shiites and Sunnis who despise them? The Shiites we are helping kill the Sunnis? The Sunnis we are helping kill both al-Quada and Shiites? The Shiites killing each other? The Sunnis killing each other? Geez, and then there are those pesky Kurds - So, many friends/enemies, kinda hard to separate them.

Geez, FAUX-Lib, you really must help with scorecards.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on August 24, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

fox-liar - What party would accept our surrender? This is the problem clueless clowns like you have - you keep talking about an "enemy" when in fact what we have is a civil war where we are arming both sides.

It isn't exactly a secret that the troops we train and arm during the day go out and use that training and those arms to commit the very acts we are supposedly preventing.

As I have with the other jackasses who support the US occupation of Iraq I challenge you to explain why the Iraqi people needed to die. The answer must include a serious national security component. It must not include fantasy scenarios - that is "maybe, somehow, far in the future, tens of millions would have died if we didn't kill tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqis now" automatically demonstrates that you aren't serious about national security and are instead an idiot warmonger.

If you can't answer the question then I would respectfully request that you sit quietly at home breathing in the fetid air that surrounds your rotting morality until you succumb to something appropriately horrible, thanking god that you, unlike so many Iraqi victims of George Bush's vanity and malice, are not ripped limb from limb by airborne bombs.

Posted by: heavy on August 24, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" is attempting to argue that the metrics are merely a result of US troops' increased participation in the so-called "sureg." Of course, as usual "ex-liberal argues in bad faith, and transparently, insultingly so. "ex-liberal" does not address the metrics that wouldn't nominally be affected by increased combat -- such as the continued decline in basic services, or the continued attacks on Iraqi civilians and unacceptably high levels of voilence and anarchy (well, they're perfectly acceptable to "ex-liberal," as long as they make him feel safe).

And, of course, "ex-liberal"'s feeble argument for the success -- excuse me, make that "progress" -- of the "surge" is belied by the fact that the political situation is deteriorating, not improving. Those extra US casualties "ex-liberal" touts are dying for nothing. Well, not as far as "ex-liberal" is concerned -- they're dying to make him feel safe and/or the political ambitions of the neocons.

Why Kevin's moderator(s) tolerate "ex-liberal"'s pissing on the floor in here remains a mystery.

Posted by: Gregory on August 24, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's metrics are useful. However, the harm done by the enemy is only half the story. One must also look at harm done by us and our allies to the enemy.
It's like a report of football game that included the number of points scored by one team only.

What ex-lib is saying kevin, is that what this debacle needs is a BODY COUNT! We need a body count metric from our boyz over there because...see how well that worked in Vietnam? And Bush HAS basically said this is Vietnam all over again (he just hasn't accepted the complete Vietnam, that this will end the same way).

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on August 24, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory,

The moderators tolerate him because he displays so much febrility - Really hot, hot, hot poster. And they might need to use his Yellow Cab sometime.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on August 24, 2007 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

I would argue that "ex-liberal" isn't a classic troll to be moderated away. He's a moron true believer who doesn't understand that he was never liberal and was always a fan of killing people who aren't Americans using American soldiers to do it and thereby killing Americans.

His arguments are transparent and stupid, but he comes by his stupidity naturally.

Posted by: heavy on August 24, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

But, they allow Model 62 to chew on his "Quds" and declare the spread of tacos to be a result of the Mexican Invasion.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on August 24, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks so much for assembling all this data.

I was deeply skeptical about the news reports because they never explained =what they were comparing=. Hellooooo, newsfolk, it's called "critical thinking and data analysis."

Posted by: Mark Wise on August 24, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

In the chart it shows attacks on oil pipelines going from 8 -> 143 with a 75% increase. I'm not all that great with numbers but that doesn't look right. Should that be 80 instead of 8 or is the percentage just wrong?

Posted by: robert on August 24, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

This is great stuff and shd be given HUGE visibility. BTW, if you research the prices of gas, food, etc, you will also find that inflation is rampant, even in dollars.

Posted by: whenwego on August 24, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

It is truly amazing how rapidly this theme has taken hold. It's like there is a conga line and all of Washington is singing "Yes, the surge is work-ing! Yes, the surge is work-ing!.

Posted by: Cougarhutch on August 24, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Robert, the oil pipeline attacks went from 8 to 14, a 75% increase. The "3" after the "14" corresponds to the footnote below (it looks like "143" on my browser as well).

Posted by: Dwight on August 24, 2007 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder what next year's chart will look like.

Posted by: Greg DeHart on August 24, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Too many Democrats, including Hillary, have played into the Bush Administration's hand by agreeing that the surge is working and arguing that the only problem is the lack of political conciliation.

What the data show is that even at the military level, for the country as a whole, the situation has gotten worse, not better, so that the surge is a failure at the military level. That is the message the Democrats should be pushing.

We simply do not have anywhere enough troops to extend the gains made in some areas to the entire country. If we had the 500,000 troops General Shelton? said we needed, we MIGHT be able to win a military victory (but even that is highly questionable), but we don't have anywhere near that number of troops. There is no way to win militarily and since there is no reasonable prospects for a political conciliation, the only sensible policy is to cut our losses with a strategic withdrawal.

Posted by: CaptainVideo on August 24, 2007 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

"I would argue that 'ex-liberal' isn't a classic troll to be moderated away."

As long as he plays by the rules, he doesn't get moderated away and that's fine. But he is a troll, in my opinion. His name choice confirms this -- a handle specifically designed to inflame and wholly contradicted by his every post here.

Posted by: PaulB on August 24, 2007 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Too many Democrats, including Hillary, have played into the Bush Administration's hand by agreeing that the surge is working"

And all of this, in my opinion, can be traced back to Pollack and O'Hanlon. Their dishonest op-ed has done more damage than anything else I've seen or read in the past six months.

Posted by: PaulB on August 24, 2007 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

"To see why Kevin's criteria are insufficient"

Dear heart, just what criteria would you propose we use? The one you chose above is also moving in the opposite direction, and massively so.

"try the following thought experiment. Imagine that the US withdrew all troops and Iraq's army and police all deserted. That would be tantamount to surrender. The enemy would have won."

Which "enemy" would that be, dear? You still cannot come to grips with the fact that Iraq is in a civil war, can you?

"Yet, Kevin's criteria would show that we were winning, because there would be dramatic reductions in Iraqi Military and Police Killed, US Troop Fatalities, and US Troops wounded."

ROFLMAO.... Dear heart, do you really not see how self-evidently moronic this argument is? I see no need to respond; I'll just let this idiocy stand all by itself.

"and having substantial success"

No, dear, they're not, not by any independently-verifiable and verified criteria.

Posted by: PaulB on August 24, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

His arguments are transparent and stupid, but he comes by his stupidity naturally.

I disagree. Of course "ex-liberal"'s arguments are transparently stupid, but he deliberately posts, not just provocative neocon propaganda, but deliberately bad faith neocon propaganda. "ex-liberal" revels in reposting assertions that have been debunked over and over again, and delights in derailing threads; that to me is the nature of a troll.

But one of Kevin's then-regulars labeled "ex-liberal" as "civil," apparently because he eschews profanity, so he can insult us here all he wants -- not just by the mindless reposting of mindless neocon drivel, but by the deliberate bad faith of his arguments. "ex-liberal"'s continued presence is an insult to those more sympathetic to Kevin's ideology, but it's one his moderator9s) is apparently inclined to tolerate most of the time. So be it.

Posted by: Gregory on August 24, 2007 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

Can't you all just please support the troops by lying and suppressing the truth? Where's your patriotism?

Posted by: Deadeye Dick Cheney on August 25, 2007 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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