Stunning decline in casualties in Iraq

The Surge’s effectiveness in bringing down the rate of deaths in Iraq is stunning.  Naysayers (and there are a few who hang out here), have already moved the goal posts, saying that the Surge hasn’t worked because (a) all the necessary internecine, tribal, religious, etc., killing was already done before the Surge kicked in and (b) the Surge was supposed to bring instant harmony to the Iraqi government.  Both these arguments are specious.

As to the first, that argument is belied by the direct correlation between the Surge and the drop in casualties.  It’s possible, of course, that the Surge just coincidentally happened at precisely the same moment the Islamist slaughterers decided that they had succeeded in their bloody work.  Possible, but hardly probable.  That’s an argument only for those who resent the fact that more troops on the ground mean less deaths in Iraq.

And as to the second, that’s a cart before the horse argument.  Government cannot be stable if the country is awash in violence.  For one thing, the violence surges upwards, with assassinations being used in lieu of ballot boxes.  Only the insanely brave, the foolhardy or the complicit will seek political office under those circumstances.  For another thing, the ordinary citizenry can scarcely be expected to think in political terms if survival is its primary issue.  When violence declines, when ordinary people of good will can run for office, and when the citizens can view politics as a ballot sport, not a death sport, government tends to stabilize.

The same thing goes for economic stability.  When streets are awash in blood, ordinary people cannot develop, sell and buy goods.  All they can do is hunker down, which has a stagnating effect on the economy.

The Surge, which has always been a military operation, has achieved its military goals and, with luck and with a continued strong US presence, the political and economic goals will be able to follow.

5 Responses

  1. Stunning Decline in Casualties in Iraq

    Not quite the message the MSM would like to report before a caucus or a primary now is it?

  2. […] [Discuss This Topic with Bookworm at Bookworm Room] Share Article Iraq    Sphere: Related Content Trackback URL […]

  3. it is not so much “some” people deny it as it is no longer popular to talk about Bush dissing Europe and Bush not listening to his generals about more troops being needed.

    In war, you change what you do based upon the situation. And thus the Left changes their actions even as they wage war against the allies of humanity.

  4. The Bush administration said the “surge” was also aimed at curbing sectarian killings, and to gain time for political reform for the government of U.S.-backed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

    During the surge, the number of Iraqis displaced from their homes quadrupled, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent. By the end of 2007, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that there are over 2.3 million internally displaced persons within Iraq, and over 2.3 million Iraqis who have fled the country.

    The non-governmental organisation Refugees International describes Iraq’s refugee problem as “the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis.”

    In October the Syrian government began requiring visas for Iraqis. Until then it was the only country to allow Iraqis in without visas. The new restrictions have led some Iraqis to return to Baghdad, but that number is well below 50,000.

    A recent UNHCR survey of families returning found that less than 18 percent did so by choice. Most came back because they lacked a visa, had run out of money abroad, or were deported.

    Sectarian killings have decreased in recent months, but still continue. Bodies continue to be dumped on the streets of Baghdad daily.

    One reason for a decrease in the level of violence is that most of Baghdad has essentially been divided along sectarian lines. Entire neighbourhoods are now surrounded by concrete blast walls several metres high, with strict security checkpoints. Normal life has all but vanishe

    The Iraqi Red Crescent estimates that eight out of ten refugees are from Baghdad.

    By the end of 2007, attacks against occupation forces decreased substantially, but still number more than 2,000 monthly. Iraqi infrastructure, like supply of potable water and electricity are improving, but remain below pre-invasion levels. Similarly with jobs and oil exports. Unemployment, according to the Iraqi government, ranges between 60-70 percent.

    An Oxfam International report released in July says 70 percent of Iraqis lack access to safe drinking water, and 43 percent live on less than a dollar a day. The report also states that eight million Iraqis are in need of emergency assistance.

    “Iraqis are suffering from a growing lack of food, shelter, water and sanitation, healthcare, education, and employment,” the report says. “Of the four million Iraqis who are dependent on food assistance, only 60 percent currently have access to rations through the government-run Public Distribution System (PDS), down from 96 percent in 2004.”

    Nearly 10 million people depend on the fragile rationing system. In December, the Iraqi government announced it would cut the number of items in the food ration from ten to five due to “insufficient funds and spiralling inflation.” The inflation rate is officially said to be around 70 percent.

    The cuts are to be introduced in the beginning of 2008, and have led to warnings of social unrest if measures are not taken to address rising poverty and unemployment.

    Iraq’s children continue to suffer most. Child malnutrition rates have increased from 19 percent during the economic sanctions period prior to the invasion, to 28 percent today.

    This year has also been one of the bloodiest of the entire occupation. The group Just Foreign Policy, “an independent and non-partisan mass membership organisation dedicated to reforming U.S. foreign policy,” estimates the total number of Iraqis killed so far due to the U.S.-led invasion and occupation to be 1,139,602.

    This year 894 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, making 2007 the deadliest year of the entire occupation for the U.S. military, according to ICasualties.org.

    To date, at least 3,896 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq, according to the U.S. Department of Defence.

    A part of the U.S. military’s effort to reduce violence has been to pay former resistance fighters. Late in 2007, the U.S. military began paying monthly wages of 300 dollars to former militants, calling them now “concerned local citizens.”

    While this policy has cut violence in al-Anbar, it has also increased political divisions between the dominant Shia political party and the Sunnis – the majority of these “concerned citizens” being paid are Sunni Muslims. Prime Minister Maliki has said these “concerned local citizens” will never be part of the government’s security apparatus, which is predominantly composed of members of various Shia militias.

    Underscoring another failure of the so-called surge is the fact that the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad remains more divided than ever, and hopes of reconciliation have vanished.

    According to a recent ABC/BBC poll, 98 percent of Sunnis and 84 percent of Shias in Iraq want all U.S. forces out of the country.

    [audio src="http://www.ecoshock.org/downloads/nuclear/ES_071208_BeyondGreenZone.mp3" /]

  5. the surge, which added some 30,000 troops to the 135,000 already deployed to Iraq when Bush announced the plan Jan. 10, was designed to pacify Baghdad and regain some degree of control over the predominantly Sunni Anbar province, a stronghold of the insurgency, especially al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. The surge, which began in early February, is expected to reach its full complement by the end of June.

    By curbing sectarian violence in the capital and going on the offensive against al-Qaeda in Anbar, the surge’s authors had hoped to arrest the country’s drift into full-scale civil war and thus provide the security and political space needed for “moderate” forces on all sides to forge a consensus on key issues, such as the powers of local governments, reversing de-Ba’athification, the distribution of oil revenues, and the disbanding of sectarian militias.

    Fat chance that will happen anytime soon!

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