Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words: Iraq

Attacks

Via Juan Cole, via Andrew Sullivan.

This chart was generated by the Federal government. (PDF here.)

9 comments:

Stephen said...

Pro-war bloggers are going to note the downward trend since January 2007. "The surge is working" — this is going to be the mantra between now and September.

It will be interesting, therefore, to see whether the downward trend continues through the summer. And if it does, what conclusions should we draw?

(Note: I am no supporter of the Iraq war — I'm just waiting to see what transpires in September.)

Scott said...

What's the significance of September?

Stephen said...

September has been identified as a day of reckoning, of sorts, when progress in Iraq will be soberly assessed, and a decision will be taken about whether to stay the course or pull out. The idea is mocked here (rather effectively, if you read Greenwald's whole column):

September, you see, is the real turning point, the real Day of Reckoning. Finally, our political elites are going to face the cold, hard truth in an unvarnished and hard-nosed way about The Facts on the Ground. That is the read deadline for George W. Bush. No more leniency for him come September. Republicans, Democrats and their pundit and opinion-making comrades alike have all banded together -- strength in numbers -- and boldly decreed: "No More." Either we have Real Progress in September, or that is the end of the line.

Republicans have asked for time to evaluate whether the surge is working. After a bit of a showdown between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the Democrats agreed to give them the time they demanded. Moreover, some Republicans are likewise growing impatient with the war effort. FWIW, Andrew Sullivan thinks the September deadline constitutes a good policy. I tend to think Greenwald's cynical assessment is sounder.

Intergalactic Hussy said...

Does that have anything to do with America being attacked by Al Qaeda in September? I don't think some of them in Washington can tell the difference. :\

Anonymous said...

"It will be interesting, therefore, to see whether the downward trend continues through the summer. And if it does, what conclusions should we draw?"

Speaking as a supporter of the overthrow of Saddam (I don't like the term "pro war" any more than I suspect most anti war types would appreciate the term "pro Saddam" being used about them), I noticed the same thing Stephen did.

I'm not getting too excited just yet however - look closely at the figures and there seems to be an annual pattern, with attacks peaking in the September/October period, declining over the winter months, bottoming out around February/March time and then increasing again over the spring/summer to another peak the following autumn.

What we've seen so far *may* be just this pattern repeating itself (though April has also shown a decline, whereas every previous year it was starting to rise, but you can't draw conclusions from one month's figures). So yes, what happens over the summer is going to be critical. If the decline continues and the annual cycle is broken, I don't see how you can seriously say anything other than that the surge is working.

Random

CyberKitten said...

Random said: If the decline continues and the annual cycle is broken, I don't see how you can seriously say anything other than that the surge is working.

A few points:

We're not talking about economic activity or anything like that (represented in the chart) but War. You can't predict future casualty rates on past results.

Two things which may be affecting the numbers of 'Allied' forces being killed:

The more troops you have 'in-country' the more targets you are presenting to the enemy.

It's an ASYMETRIC war. Therefore if we increase our troop numbers - the 'insurgents' go back to their day jobs until the number of soldiers drops back... then they pick up their AK-47's and start killing again.

There are *far* too many variables in the equation to even think about what the graph may or may not mean. The only time such things can be adeqautely analysed is when the whole fiasco is over.

beepbeepitsme said...

I wasn't a supporter of the invasion of Iraq, but I recognize that there was a window of opportunity when if "hearts and minds were won" - we may have been able to elicit change without considerable pain to the Iraqi people.

Unfortunately, I think we missed it. For whatever reason or reasons, change cannot occur without trust - it appears that there is not enough of that on both sides to make a positive difference.

Ezzie said...

A) What Stephen said is true. It's the one of the first things I'd point to.

B) Others: Look at the downward trends followed by upswings. Compare those to what was happening in the US at those times, poor statements by US leaders, etc. As an example, look at the first major uptick: The months leading up to the election in 2004. A nice push to drive Bush out of office by making the war look "too bad" to continue fighting. This was followed by his victory, which was immediately followed by a nice drop the next month - likely demoralized terrorists thinking that even their efforts couldn't get Bush out.

Look again at 2006. A huge upswing in the months leading up to the election, a slight drop in the actual month of November, then an increase after a Democratic win (terrorists encouraged by their progress) followed by a decrease once the surge hit in February.

C) The increasing percentage of attacks on civilian targets points to increasing desperation, even when they're successfully carrying out more and more attacks.

Scott said...

Aaaaand May becomes the deadliest month since 2004. So much for the surge "working".