Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

November 30, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

SIZING UP THE SURGE....The LA Times reports on the difficulty of getting accurate civilian fatality figures in Iraq:

Iraqi officials have been reporting far higher civilian death totals than those reported by U.S. forces, and aides to American commanders now acknowledge that the U.S. military probably had been undercounting such casualties.

....The conflicting figures frequently arise from incidents in which the U.S. asserts it has killed insurgents whereas Iraqi officials and witnesses say civilians died.

....American officers say that trends in both U.S. and "host nation" reporting show that violence has decreased substantially over the last four months. "The trends are the same; the magnitude is different," said Army Col. Bill Rapp, head of Petreaus' small in-house group of advisors. "He reports both, and our guess is truth is in between that range."

The "magnitude" is different. Hmmm. The Times also reports that U.S. commanders think the Iraqis intentionally lowball civilian fatalities in areas where they've taken over the lead from American troops. They do this to make their own security forces look better, which, ironically, is exactly the same thing that various independent monitoring groups have accused Petraeus of doing to make the U.S. surge look good in areas where we've taken over.

Denying that the surge is working is apparently the latest Great Lefty Sin™, and God knows I don't want to do that. I'm still waiting for political progress. Still, a year from now it will be interesting to find out just what the consensus is on how much violence really did decrease during the second half of 2007. Stay tuned.

Kevin Drum 12:24 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Your usual razor-sharp sense of humor and irony may have failed you, Kevin. Won't the consensus a year from now largely be driven by the way we talk about it today? I'm confused.

Posted by: Martin on November 30, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

The surge worked in Baghdad. In part because by the time the surge took place, most of the neighborhood clearing had taken place. Most of the Iraqi refugees aren't from small towns or the countryside. They are from Baghdad and the other major cities. Both Sunnis and Shia have been somewhat successful in "draining the swamp."

Furthermore, violence has not decreased appreciably around the rest of Iraq, and if all the extra American troops were to be withdrawn tomorrow from Baghdad, you'd see the same sort of Sunni on Shia/Shia on Sunni violence that proceeded the surge. This would be facilitated, in part, by the U.S. arming and training a good number of Sunnis to work against the foreign element and the so-called Al Qaeda in Iraq. Don't forget, Sadr has told his militia, the most organized and heavily armed group, to stand down. As soon as he knows it's to his advantage, they will be back in the streets taking as much territory as they can. As soon as the Americans leave, Baghdad will look like Mogadishu.

Electricity, water and health care are still below pre-invasion level in most of the country. The oil industry is moribund.

No matter how you slice it, Shrub's Iraq adventure has been a complete failure, and has saddled the nation with more debt that WWII.

Posted by: JeffII on November 30, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

We are WINNING. Norman Rogers, where are you? Help me spank these stupid loser liberals. The FACTS prove it. Who cares if ethnic cleansing "cleared the brush?" Less dead means WERE WINNING. How dumb can you be.

Posted by: Free Lover of Freedom and Free Liberty on November 30, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Seems that as more people are killed and leave Iraq, the number of violent deaths goes down.

So what?

We're still spending braziallians of dollars on a farsical endeavor.

I bet we're in Iraq forever.

War sucks.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on November 30, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

No political resolution, no "success." Period.

Posted by: Volatile Compound on November 30, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Reminds me of the Vietnam body-count days. Every dead Vietnamese was automatically counted as Viet Cong, because the larger the number the better.

The dead have to be combatants, because civilian deaths are a bad thing and combatant deaths are good. So guess how the reports from the field come in?

Posted by: Rick B on November 30, 2007 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

What it comes down to is essentially that the surge worked as long as we lie about the deaths and ignore the original goal, which was not just to bring down the violence but to bring it down in order to facilitate political reconcilliation.

It's good that some people weren't killed. But we need a better justification than that to stay in the middle of a civil war.

Posted by: tomeck48 on November 30, 2007 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

One way or another, we have two groups lusting after each other's blood, and our military is standing there holding them apart while they slowly bleed us by the death of a thousand (or 4000) cuts.

And we've just promised to stay there and keep holding them apart forever and ever and ever, until the dollar collapses completely, everything the peace-making presidents from Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton worked for is destroyed, and the last soldier who enlisted in the pre-war army has been blown up or maimed and replaced by a mercenary or desperate high-school drop-out.

Possibly them some centrist politicians and a few of the less arrogant pundits will finally have the guts to declare victory and join the anti-war faction.

An unspeakable betrayal, from first to last. Have a nice, safe, self-indulgent Christmas, Beltway socialites!

Posted by: Berken on November 30, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

I am glad less Iraqis are being killed. I doubt it has anything to do with the 'surge,' and more to do with the religious faction partition (incorrectly called ethnic cleansing) that has taken place, the bribing of many Sunni leaders to stop their attacks on Shiites, and the backing down of the Mahdi Army that al Sadr called for.

What I am not glad about are the increased air strikes by the US Air Force, which kill lots of civilians.

Posted by: Brojo on November 30, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Denying that the surge is working is apparently the latest Great Lefty Sin, and God knows I don't want to do that. I'm still waiting for political progress.

Exactly. As hard as we try, we can't help being an underinformed, often deceived public. The government--directly and indirectly--has fed us lies about the Iraq disaster since its conception. We don't really know what the surge is, and the military has good (security) as well as bad reasons for not telling us. We don't know who was pushed where, who was run over, or even what our objectives were, except political progress. Nobody sold the surge by reminding us that the dead are peaceful.

It's hard enough for the Iraqis to figure out what's going on, and most of them have very good reasons for keeping silent about what they do know.

Posted by: Boolaboola on November 30, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Sadr's militia stood down. So how the hell do you get an accurate assessment???

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 30, 2007 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Almost as though you don't trust what the US guvmunt say!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on November 30, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, the Surge worked, but we still got 160K troops over there and we are still buring a billion a week. What gives?

Posted by: The fake fake al on November 30, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, the 41st Brigade, a National Guard unit in Oregon, has been placed on alert that it's 3,500 troops will be sent to either Iraq or Afghanistan within the next 20 months. Some will be sent on their 3rd tours.

Posted by: bert on November 30, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Noted without comment, except to say that I am NOT the man in question:

Breaking: Hostage Situation Reported At Hillary Campaign Office In New Hampshire
By Greg Sargent - November 30, 2007, 1:47PM
From local WCVP-TV in Boston comes some frightening news::

BOSTON -- A man took people hostage Friday at a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign office in New Hampshire, police said.
The incident happened at about 1 p.m. Friday at 28 North Main St. in Rochester. Officials said that a man is holding people hostage at the office, but it is unclear how many people are being held.

The St. Elizabeth Seaton School and other surrounding buildings have been locked down.

Hillary is not there -- she's in Washington, D.C., at the Democratic National Committee meeting.

We are WINNING. Norman Rogers, where are you? Help me spank these stupid loser liberals. The FACTS prove it. Who cares if ethnic cleansing "cleared the brush?" Less dead means WERE WINNING. How dumb can you be.

Calm down, Poindexter. I'll handle the funny stuff from here on in.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on November 30, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

"...the surge is working ..."

Post hoc ergo propter hoc?

Posted by: Robert Earle on November 30, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

So, according to the article, the US military and the Iraqi military are now accusing each other of deliberately understating the civilian casualties in the particular parts of the country that they manage. That's reassuring.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on November 30, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Life is cheap in Iraq. As far as value of lives, Jewish >> American >> Arab. That's why our soldier bees sacrifice as drones so the queen bee Israel can prosper.

Posted by: Luther on November 30, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

... the last soldier who enlisted in the pre-war army has been blown up or maimed and replaced by a mercenary or desperate high-school drop-out.
Posted by: Berken on November 30, 2007 at 12:44 PM

Speaking of desperate high-school drop-outs.. I was in an unemployment office a few weeks ago and there was a 16 year old kid in there talking with one of the case workers. I heard them talking about parental consent and his 17th birthday and a recruiters name was mentioned. When he left, his case worker and two other case workers started whispering a lot and it seemed obvious they were upset about either working with a recruiter or facilitating the kid getting signed up. Of course, the entire lobby was full of military brochures...

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on November 30, 2007 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

doc: Speaking of desperate high-school drop-outs..

Stepped-up Army recruiting enlists many with problems - Boston Globe 11/27/07

October stats show that at least 1 of every 5 recruits required a waiver for criminal records, drug or alcohol problems, or health conditions to join the service

....medical waivers are double what they were from 2003...

Posted by: mr. irony on December 1, 2007 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

mr. irony, This kid was different. I didn't sense any problems with the law or substance abuse. He looked to be a perfectly healthy farm kid (maybe with a single parent), who simply wasn't old enough yet to join. He sounded like somebody that could make it through high school if he wanted to. I remember him saying something about just getting married or about to get married (girlfriend knocked up?). They have been dangling those signing bonuses lately. I think that's what he was thinking about.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on December 1, 2007 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK
Post a comment









Remember personal info?










 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly