August 28, 2006
To most of us, the following two statements seem somehow, you know, connected:
- Deaths of American, Coalition, and Iraqi soldiers, along with civilians, have risen somewhat in the past week or so;
- The Iraqi Army, with U.S. air support, initiated a major offensive against the mighty al-Mahdi militia of Muqtada Sadr in the past week or so.
But to elite, new-school journalists, these two observations are completely discrete from each other; there is no connection, and the first is only explicable by concluding that we must be losing (or have already lost) the war. Why, what other possible explanation could there be?
A suicide car bomber killed 14 people and wounded 43 outside the Interior Ministry in downtown Baghdad Monday, police said, a day after an upsurge of violence left more than 50 people dead across the country.
In one of the deadliest weekends for the U.S. military in recent months, the U.S. military said seven U.S. soldiers died between Saturday and Sunday night.
Also at least 34 people were killed and dozens injured in gunbattles between Iraqi troops and Shiite militiamen loyal to a popular cleric in the southern city of Diwaniyah, officials said Monday....
[T]he renewed violence undercut Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's claim that government forces were prevailing over insurgents and sectarian extremists.
Despite the deaths, British Defense Minister Des Browne, visiting Baghdad on Monday, said the situation was improving.
Reuters is no better:
Six American soldiers were among more than 60 people killed on Sunday that challenged assertions by Iraqi and U.S. officials that their forces were gaining the upper hand.
Both these quotations contain the same odd meme: that the measure of whether one is "prevailing" is entirely how many of one's own soldiers died that week. No measure of territory captured or secured, plots thwarted, nor provinces handed over to Iraqi forces; not even a comparison count of the number of enemy killed.
Instead, the antique media offers this simplistic formula: if the number of Coalition and civilian casualties rises one week, that is proof that we're no longer "prevailing" or "gaining the upper hand." (Does that mean if it drops the next week, we're back on course? Then how come the media never report that paradigm?)
Back in the real world, we pajama-clad amateurs (I'm actually wearing acceptable streetwear as I type this) realize that when we embark upon a powerful offensive against enemy forces -- in this case, the Iran-backed militia of Sadr -- we're going to incur more casualties than if we just hunkered down in dug-in positions and didn't show an eyebrow above the trenches. Is this really that difficult a concept to grasp?
Is anybody unaware that we lost far more soldiers during the D-Day invasion of Normandy than we did in 1942; but would anyone seriously maintain that we were doing better right after Pearl Harbor than we were while crashing onto Omaha Beach?
Neither of these two stories, nor any others that I read in the MSM, so much as hint at how many of Sadr's men were killed in the same combat. But surely that is needed for the metric above to make any sense: if we lost seven soldiers over the weekend, but we managed to kill several score of the enemy, wouldn't that change the conclusion of whether we're winning or losing?
Evidently not. Nor does the fact that July saw the lowest rate of U.S. troops dying since the Fall of 2003, except for the aberrant month of March, 2006: only 1.48 soldiers, airmen, seamen, or Air Force-men died per day.
In the previous month, it was 2.10 per day; and before that it was 2.55/day; and before that it was 2.73. So far this month, 51 American soldiers and one British soldier have died in Iraq, over a space of 28 days, an average of 1.86 per day -- higher than July, but still well below the average for 2006, for the last two years, and for the entire war (2.27/day).
Civilian and Iraqi Security Force deaths are also down. In July, there was an average of 41.3 per day; but almost all the way through August, the average so far is 31.8 per day, a drop of 23%.
But all it takes is a single flare-up of deaths, due to an offensive initiated by the Iraqis that aims at driving Sadr out of the militia business -- or failing that, out of Iraq itself -- for the news bureaus to begin shrieking and jumping on chairs as if they just spotted a mouse. ("It takes but a single match to set the woods ablaze!")
Can't we get some older correspondents who at least know the most basic characteristics of war?
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 28, 2006, at the time of 5:17 AM
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Tracked on September 1, 2006 5:52 PM
The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman
The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman at August 28, 2006 6:25 AM
The following hissed in response by: MTF
A beautifully written post, and I can only hope the president's communications director has some idea of how to begin to fight this "media war" more effectively. Right now, only you good keyboardists in the blogosphere are fully engaged in "truth-squadding" Rueters, CNN, the NYT and LAT et al.-- that has to change!
The following hissed in response by: daysofnoah
Perfect. Thank God for this blog. It's like mental ammonia scent. Whether sleep-wear clad or no, your service to "I've got opinions, but I don't know why!" - humanity is much appreciated.
The following hissed in response by: Trickish knave
Ah, the Dogs of War. Tricky business to be sure and those of us in the military can figure that stuff out.
Unfortunately, the seeing eye dogs of war (media) all have an agenda to fulfill i.e. Make this administration look bad- and they report in a painfully biased way. They have no shame.
Great post and the graph above lends to its impact.
The above hissed in response by: Trickish knave at August 28, 2006 11:08 AM
The following hissed in response by: Lib-O-Suxion
Great article. I find it interesting that the writing and logic in the Mudville Gazette reflects persons of far more intelligence than is exhibited by those writing in the drive-by pubs. Perhaps all the liberal logic (an oxoymoron if there ever was one) about their superior mentality is incorrect. Ya think?
The following hissed in response by: Terrye
The last few weeks saw a drop in violence but that could not last so long as the militias remain a threat. I do not remember what officer said this but a few months ago I read an officer in Iraq said that if we lose more men in a week that means they are fighting. He said despite popular opinion they do not just drive around waiting for a roadside bomb to go off. Increased casualties mean there has been increased fighting.
I have wondered if some of the civilians are in fact militia, how would we know?
But they have it figured out, we can not win if we do not fight, but if we fight and die we can not win. handy.
The above hissed in response by: Terrye at August 28, 2006 12:08 PM
The following hissed in response by: MTF
Calling the media "the seeing eye dogs of war" is wonderful phrasing. Those noble few! [/sarcasm]
I'm sure the antique media writers would tell you their mission is indeed "Leading those of us too blind to see" for ourselves.
The following hissed in response by: Big D
The insidious nature of all this is that the poor reporting encourages further acts of terrorism. In fact enemy casualties are frequently lumped in with innocent Iraqi casualties, making it seem that the enemy is invincible.
Funny how winning for us is defined by the complete absence of violence, while winning for them is the presence of any violence whatsoever, even violence in which they are the only victims.
The following hissed in response by: brutepcm
A plane crashed this week, therefore,airport security is failing. There was an arrest for the JonBenet murder, therefore Colorado law enforcement is making progress on the case.
This kind of logic works for everything.
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