May 16, 2007

"Surge" - Yet to Begin - Produces Mere 15% Drop So Far

Hatched by Dafydd

A fascinating glimpse into the defeatism mindset: The so-called "surge" (that is, the counterinsurgency strategy), which has not actually started yet (they're still prepping the ground and waiting for the final brigade to take its place), has already produced a 15% drop in attacks... and AP dismisses that as "little effect":

A U.S. government report released Tuesday showed that the recent U.S. troop increase and security crackdown has had little effect on the high number of attacks in the country.

The average number of attacks rose from 71 a day in January 2006 to a high of 176 per day in October, according to the report from the Government Accountability Office. In February, when the troop increase began to take effect, daily attacks dropped slightly to 164. Daily attacks averaged 157 in March and 149 in April, the report said.

Pulling out my rusty calculator, Iraq attacks have dropped by 27 per day... which is more than 15% of what they were. In other words, before the counterinsurgency operation has even begun, attacks -- we're talking attacks from al-Qaeda here -- have already dropped by 15%. And we likewise know that sectarian violence has plummeted.

So you'd expect that civilian deaths would have dropped as well, right? Well, AP wasn't sure; the one report they looked at didn't tell them; so they decided not to bother trying to find out:

The report, which cited the U.S.-led forces in Iraq for the figures, did not measure the numbers killed and wounded in the attacks.

Military officials have said that since the security crackdown in the Baghdad region began more than 12 weeks ago, Sunni insurgents have hit back with powerful, and extremely deadly, car bombs that often cause more casualties than the types of attacks used previously.

Often? But are more or fewer people being killed now than back in 2006? To this question, the author, Thomas Wagner -- or perhaps the author, Hamid Ahmed, and the white guy who takes credit, Thomas Wagner (we'll never know!) -- shrugs his shoulders in journalistic helplessness. What can he do?

He could trundle all the way over to Iraq Coalition Casualty Count to see what could be seen... as Big Lizards did. They're not the best source; but they do thoroughly count every slain Iraqi civilian reported by the elite media (along with many other statistics); so let's give it a shot:

  • In the last half of 2006, an average of 1,978 "civilian deaths" per month were reported;
  • In January 2007, before the counterinsurgency buildup began, there were 1,711;
  • In February, just as the operation was announced, there were 2,864 (more than in any month in 2006 except September);
  • In March, this dropped to 2,762;
  • In April, it was 1,521;
  • In May through the 15th, it's 729, for a projected 1,507 civilian deaths.

Or to put it into percentages, from the local peak in February, civilian deaths have dropped by 1,357 per month, or 47%.

But perhaps that's not really fair; we shouldn't count from a "surge" of al-Qaeda attacks right before we began inserting the brigades into Baghdad and Anbar provinces. All right, let's count instead from the average of the latter half of 2006.

In that case, civilian deaths have dropped by only 471 per month... which is a drop in civilian killings of a "scant" 24%. What was it AP said again?

Sunni insurgents have hit back with powerful, and extremely deadly, car bombs that often cause more casualties than the types of attacks used previously.

Evidently not that often.

So let's tote up the statistics: The counterinsurgency has so far produced a drop in the monthly number of attacks in Iraq of about 15%, and a drop in the monthly toll of civilian killings of about 24%... and the actual operation hasn't even begun yet.

If that is what AP calls "little effect," I wonder what the heck they'll say when the full counterinsurgency actually gets rolling, and the drops are even steeper than that. Perhaps, after some sleepless nights pondering their diction, they'll upgrade the rhetoric... and declare that the reduction in dead Iraqis has gone from "little" to "modest effect."

I modestly submit that, were we talking about homicide-rate reductions in any American city with a Democratic mayor, the elites would be cheering and cutting capers in the streets.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 16, 2007, at the time of 6:02 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this hissing:


The following hissed in response by: Fritz

I wonder if Mr. Wagner would consider a 15% drop in his wages as little? Granted that I wish it were more, but to me 15% looks like a pretty good start. Perhaps the A.P. ought to downsize its reporter pool by 15% and make people like Mr. Wagner part of that 15% so he learns what it really means.

The above hissed in response by: Fritz [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 16, 2007 7:59 AM

The following hissed in response by: charlotte

Thanks for the clear and cogent take on stats and progress, Dafydd. Melanie Phillips would agree with you as to today's 'journalizm' and the underreported, often distorted, hopeful signs on the Iraqi security front. But, in a post today on Iranian nukes and Bolton's assessment of our options, "The war against the west(8)”, she’s even more despondent over British Foreign Office anti-Americanism and Bush’s consensual style of governance that seem to have led to appeasement-minded advisors holding sway over policy wrt Iranian and Syrian (French, Russian, Chinese and Democrat!) subversion of our Iraq efforts:

“…Blair is bidding Britain the longest farewell in human history; his as-yet uncrowned successor Gordon Brown has signalled that if America wants to have another war it can go and take a running jump; and in America itself, the unsavoury combination of Democratic opportunism and Republican panic that the war in Iraq may be being lost are helping ensure that it will indeed be lost. The word from the military on the ground in Iraq is that, in a highly complex and very difficult situation, significant progress is now being made on both the security and political fronts. A strategy is in place under General Petraeus which has a reasonable chance of working. There are promising signs, particularly the fact that the Sunni insurgents have themselves turned against al Qaeda, which has lost its base amongst the Sunni who are appalled by the slaughter that al Qaeda is perpetrating upon their people.

“So there is a real window of opportunity here. But huge problems remain, not the least of which is the need to flush out the sectarian infiltration of the Iraqi government itself. This will all take time; but the military strategy on the ground is now running up smack against the timetable for America’s retreat from Iraq which has been imposed by panicky and spineless politicians (not to mention Britain’s even more shameful retreat from Basra). The short-termism and sheer stupidity in all this is truly mind-blowing. History has repeatedly shown that, in far less fraught theatres of war and insurgency, it takes many years to bring order and security. How much more so is this in Iraq, where the scale of the slaughter in the cause of preventing a free, stable and prosperous Iraq is in direct proportion to the setback for the global jihad against the free world were it to be so. Yet America and Britain want out as soon as possible — regardless of the lessons of history, regardless of how this will strengthen the enemy, regardless of common-sense, reality and an elementary regard to cultural self-preservation. The bad guys are now in control — and that’s just in the west.

“It’s the leadership, stupid.”

I’d hate to be a world leader trying to do the right thing just now, because often there's only the merely, barely possible to try, after pols, bureaucrats, money and media influence or corrupt the process and choices. Funny how we both crave and are terrified of the strong, networked, even messianic leadership capable of surmounting such obstacles.

The above hissed in response by: charlotte [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 16, 2007 9:03 AM

The following hissed in response by: Pam

I'm new to the website, but already have it bookmarked and will check back daily.

I was bucked up by your take on the Funding Bill the not yet Surge, Surge.

I noticed the Senate defeated the bill to cut off funding as you predicted, and with Carl Levin, I never thought I'd call him a grown up, on board not to cut off funding then the new bill to fund through Sept will make it.

I pray you're also right about what the good Gen can report in Sept.

I'm proud of the president, and voted for him twice. I hope and pray our brave soldiers can turn this around.

Thanks for your clarity and positive outlook.

The above hissed in response by: Pam [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 16, 2007 9:54 AM

The following hissed in response by: oily_boot

Ya'll just don't get it. In the Nanny State, we must keep everyone "safe" at all times. Just ask "Barry" Obama. ANY level of civilian casualties in Iraq is tragic and unacceptable. And this is even more applicable in the United Kingdom than in the USA.

I subscribe to Christopher Hitchens' notion that, ever since the first Gulf war ended, Iraq has been a festering boil that would have to be lanced at some point by somebody. Our problem is that all the other major players in this drama benefit from the existence of the boil. I'm thinking here of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and (to a lesser extent) Iran.

Having said that, however, one must also realize that those closest to the boil - Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia - are the ones who must deal with the smell and pus from the absess. So there's a delicate balance between keeping this thing going and "helping" it get drained. And, of course, Iran has its own set of problems, with or without the Iraq situation. At any rate, there will be no lasting cessation of these "insurgent" attacks so long as Syria and Iran provide aid and comfort to the insurgents.

The above hissed in response by: oily_boot [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 16, 2007 10:33 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


British columnist Melanie Phillips is an unreliable narrator. Just look at the passage you quoted and see how many glaring and critical errors she makes:

  • "[Blair's] as-yet uncrowned successor Gordon Brown has signalled that if America wants to have another war it can go and take a running jump..."

No he hasn't; he said he wants to reevaluate Britain's committment... which is inevitable whenever one leader is supplanted by another. He has not stated that they're pulling out, nor that they will never again help us in a war. Rather, Brown has defended the "special relationship" between the United States and Great Britain.

  • "[T]he military strategy on the ground is now running up smack against the timetable for America’s retreat from Iraq which has been imposed by panicky and spineless politicians..."

This is sheerest nonsense, and it's impossible for someone in her position not to know that no such "timetable for America's retreat" has been "imposed." In fact, it was vetoed and the veto was sustained.

  • "Yet America and Britain want out as soon as possible -- regardless of the lessons of history, regardless of how this will strengthen the enemy, regardless of common-sense, reality and an elementary regard to cultural self-preservation."

"America" wants out? Yes, eventually; but there has never been a poll here where a majority of Americans have said they want the troops to come home immediately, or even by, say, the end of the year. Those polls that ask if we should bring the troops home are more open-ended than that.

And if by "America" one means the actual leadership, again, all it would take is 2/3rds of Congress to override the veto and end the war. Heck, the Senate cannot even pass a bill straightforwardly calling for the war to end, let alone pass it with enough votes to override a presidential veto.

Three essential, demonstrable errors is quite remarkable for a two-paragraph excerpt.

Phillips is exactly the sort of "neo-conservative" I decry in these pages -- well, on this cathode ray tube or LED screen: So sunk in despair that she actually helps bring about the very catastrophe she fears, by telling us all that the war is already lost at home, and that there is no hope... so we may as well just give up.

Note that I, unlike most, actually have a definition of a neo-conservative: Originally, the term referred to Reagan Republicans, someone who was a liberal but became a conservative because of the Gipper. I have expanded that original definition to make it less time-bound: A neo-conservative is a person who thinks like a liberal, but arrives at conservative conclusions.

Phillips still calls herself a "progressive," but she has become a shrill and denunciatory neo-con... who now despairs so loudly and fingerpoints so furiously that she is more of a liability to the cause she supports than an asset.

I've never been a fan of hers; she reminds me of that character in the movie Aliens (Alien II), the soldier who whines an incessant threnody of "we're toast, man... we're history!"

With friends like her, who needs enemas?


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 16, 2007 12:44 PM

The following hissed in response by: charlotte

Dafyyd, your optimism, your factually based optimism is what we all need to read and share more during the hard stretch. I, too, don't appreciate how too many of us lay all blame all the time at leaders' feet and forget that we also "vote" for Congress and their policies/ politics, with our pocketbooks, and influence with our views shared with neighbors or sent to op-ed sections. Of course, spreading good info and a buck-up mentality helps leadership succeed in their initiatives and wars more than constant hand-wringing.

In Phillips' defense, though, she does live in the Europeanizing, multi-culti UK, and it's usually not very sunny (politically or otherwise) over there. Acc to algore, global warming will fix that problem soon enough.

Also, the DoD sources I know ARE concerned that our next election cycle will short-circuit our security strategy-- that the Congressional Dems want to declare defeat and the Repubs call it a day before day is properly done. And they believe the UK will not support any actions or credible threats of action taken against Iran.

But Phillips as a purgative? Ha- seems to be cathartic theme day on some blogs.

The above hissed in response by: charlotte [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 16, 2007 1:44 PM

The following hissed in response by: charlotte

Dafydd, Charolet has difficulty spelling your name:(

The above hissed in response by: charlotte [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 16, 2007 1:49 PM

The following hissed in response by: exDemo

Why does no one admit that AQ tried a "micro-Tet" for the 2006 elections. Like the much, much stronger Viet Cong they broke their pick; but won election for a bunch of cynical American politicians.

Now the AQ tide is receding; it has gradually fallen away after its all out "surge" last fall.

Fifteen provinces secure; three in conflict, and Anbar is now swinging as the ever alert politicians there have read the tea leaves; And are turning on the doomed AQ in Iran.

In Province 17, Diyalla we will have to face the Persian subversion and the influence on the Mahdi militia. Bu the reality is that Madr has fled into exile in Iran.

The last province in the war is the city of Baghdad, where the so-called journalists never leave the safety of the Green Zone (They may as well have stayed in the New York; as their reporting is generated in the salons of NYC not Iraq). Even there the media sees "some improvement". Quieting a city is the hardest effort of all.

The Iraqi Army is now at planned size; and the Iraqi national Police is approaching programmed size. A bunch of terrorists can kill unarmed civilians, but can't tip over any government with those tactics. Anymore than the Black Rioters in the US had any hope of overthrowing the USA. Can tthey Raise Hell ? Yes. Conquer? Never.

The above hissed in response by: exDemo [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 16, 2007 5:02 PM

The following hissed in response by: exDemo

Your figures which show that the Peak of the number of attacsk was in October 2006. Up from 71 In January 2005 to 176 in October of 2005 to coincide with the US eelctiosn. thewn it has dropped by 20% in attacks and 47% in deaths per month since then.

There WAS a micro-TET offensive. The weak and unmilitary AQI andtogether with the Iranian Shia stooges, took its best shot and failed on the battlefield. I can see why the Leftist MSM would not want to recognize that they were "had" or that the American electorate was "had" by their bogus reporting, but why isn't the conservative media trumpeting the obvious news? AQI lost two leaders, (al Mahdi and al-Iraqi) and the Iranian puppet Madr, fled into exile since then.

The above hissed in response by: exDemo [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 17, 2007 1:15 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for hissing in, . Now you can slither in with a comment, o wise. (sign out)

(If you haven't hissed a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Hang loose; don't shed your skin!)

Remember me unto the end of days?

© 2005-2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved