July 2, 2007

An Interesting Improvement

The new surge strategy appears to have had at least a temporary effect on violence in Iraq. Civilian deaths dropped dramatically from May to June, according to a new report from Iraq:

Iraqi civilian deaths dropped to 1,241 last month, according to figures issued on Sunday, the lowest since a US-led crackdown was launched in February in Baghdad and other violent regions of the country.

The latest numbers, compiled from interior, defence and health ministry figures and made available to AFP, indicate that 1,241 civilians died last month, compared to 1,951 in the previous month. ...

The June casualties are the lowest since the February 14 launch of the US and Iraqi military crackdown known as Operation Fardh al-Qanoon (Imposing the Law) in and around Baghdad.

In that month 1,626 civilians were reported killed.

That's a notable drop, one that caught the attention of most major American newspapers. The Los Angeles Times notes that more Iraqi security forces got killed in June (221, 174 in May) but also more terrorists got killed, rising to 416 from 297. The US lost 331 over the last three months, in comparison.

The American military has reacted cautiously to the new numbers. The Pentagon's spokesman in Baghdad refused to take credit for the drastic reduction, saying that Centcom wants to take more time to study the data. McQ and QandO also sounds a word of caution, reminding readers that a one-month drop could be a statistical anomaly rather than a trend. The numbers in July and August will tell more of the story.

However, one cannot help but be optimistic. A 37% drop doesn't look like a statistical burp. Even the 25% from the beginning of the surge looks pretty solid. The beginning of the new strategy was almost assured to create higher casualties at first, as the aggressive tactics it featured would create more contacts between American and Iraqi security forces and the terrorists. If this trend continues, and that's a big if, it will demonstrate that the new plan by General David Petraeus is the one that will bring stability back to Iraq.

If the numbers turn south this summer -- which they did last summer -- it will put more pressure on George Bush to bring the deployment in Iraq to an end. If the numbers continue to improve, it may force Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to retreat themselves, and highlight the defeatist rhetoric of the past several months coming from the Democrats in the next election.


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Comments (10)

Posted by bill edwards | July 2, 2007 10:37 AM

Just thinking this period reminds me of the state of politics after Gettysburg and vicksburg and the march to the sea before the 1864 election. strang that history repeats itself?

Posted by Lew | July 2, 2007 11:13 AM

Does anyone really know what "success" looks like?

It seems to me that, if we expect to hear a report in September about the "success" or "failure" of the surge, we need to decide well in advance exactly what we're trying to achieve before we decide whether or not we've achieved it. If we don't, then anybody with a big enough podium can simply stand up and declare success or failure and there really isn't much argument to be made.

Is there some magic level of violence or casualties or some other metric that we can all agree on, that defines success? Is there some number of monthly attacks or incidents below which we will justifiably feel we've won? Should we poll the Iraqi people to see how "safe" they feel in going about their daily activities?

The point here is that we seem to be looking ahead to General Petraeus's report as if we were going to settle something with its message, but unless we've agreed upon the definition of success in advance, we won't settle anything. Those who are looking for "success" will see ample proof of its presence and those who anticipate "failure" will be equally convinced of its achievement.

So what will be settled? Nothing!

Posted by always right | July 2, 2007 11:17 AM

No matter your political leaning, we should all hope and pray for less (or no) US/Iraqi security forces and Iraqi civilians’ casualty.

More, please, on the enemy.

Posted by gab | July 2, 2007 11:42 AM

"If the numbers continue to improve, it may force Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to retreat themselves, and highlight the defeatist rhetoric of the past several months coming from the Democrats in the next election."

So it's only "defeatist" if they're wrong? But
"If the numbers turn south this summer" then
Reid and Pelosi were correct and they're commentary wasn't defeatist?

So cap'n, you're implying they could be correct and that you might be wrong?

Posted by Okonkolo | July 2, 2007 11:57 AM

The problem is that, in any of these scenarios, the Iraqi government is not getting it together. This was part of Sen. Lugar's point. The surge was supposed to give them time and ease security pressure so they could settle their differences and reform their government. I don't think anyone sees this happening at all this year while we are racking up more troop casualties than in any other period of the war. So how long to surge if the Iraqi government is going to be divided, infiltrated, and dysfunctional, especially if we are racking up higher casualties under an already strained military? I don't think many will be swayed by progress in September. Lugar is looking down the road and trying to imagine an effective redeployment in the midst of an all-out presidential campaign, which is why he sounded the alarm now.
I second always right's hope, but I think Lugar is right.

Posted by wham1000 | July 2, 2007 12:51 PM

Defeatist to you and 65% of the republicans, rational to 75% of the US and 95% to the rest of the world. Still using those ludicrous clichés. Let’s hope your numbers are better than those before the 06 election! Maybe you are just not that smart.

Posted by Monkei | July 2, 2007 1:40 PM

This is GREAT news, thanks for pointing it out Captain.

Posted by spurwing plover | July 2, 2007 2:04 PM

Too bad for the blood and gore news media becuase fewer deaths wont sell any of their papers and wont earn them a pulitzer

Posted by syn | July 2, 2007 2:24 PM

Wow, hoping the deafist Pelosi and Reid are winners by hoping that US Soliders are defeated.

Moonbats sure have a funny way of showing their 'patriotism' and how much they 'support the troops'

I feel sorry for moonbats their insanity must be hell. Poor things have no hearts.

Posted by gab | July 2, 2007 2:53 PM

syn illustrates his/her intellect by making assumptions based on nothing but his own feeble imaginings.

The above quotes were directly from the Captain's post. Are you calling Ed the moonbat?