Prague Twin

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Situation Unchanged

I've said it before and I will say it again (is there an echo in here?). The situation in Iraq remains largely unchanged in terms of troop loss.

Contrary to those on the right who are the first to point out when troop loss declines, and contrary to those on the left who will pipe-up whenever a chopper goes down and creates a spike, troop loss for the United States, and the Coalition as a whole, remains largely unchanged.

In fact, as time goes on, we get less and less sporadic numbers. The monthly average stays very close to the average for the whole war. Of late, the average is down to about 2.0 per day, whereas the overall average is 2.3. But that makes sense since the first month was the deadliest. So after one of the quietest months of the war, March, where US forces lost exactly one soldier per day, April saw a significant spike, and now the first week in May has seen (you guessed it) about 2 fatalities per day.

April essentially balances out the previous months to just under 2 fatalities per day.

However, a possibly ominous new trend could soon emerge. As evidenced by the recent British helicopter incident, shooting down a helicopter has a much stronger effect on the population. Chaos and celebration, although small scale for now, ensuses almost immediatley. Roadside bombs have become so commonplace, that those who want to catch a headline are going to be increasingly going after helicopters. If it is found that Iran is providing the Mahdi Army with missles, then Houston, we have a problem.

This helicopter downing is especially bad for the British in their battle of public opinion back home. The Brits have only lost 19 men in the previous 15 months. Barely over one per month. Losing four in one day is going to hit home hard.

So while the trend continues nearly unchanged, with no major outliers in the last year and a quarter, there are some bad signs on the horizon.

I'm going to predict that we will see more losses from helicopter downings and less from roadside bombs, with the result being about the same. More or less, you can figure the US is probably going to lose about two brave soldiers per day. If you were an oddsmaker or a trader, this is exactly how you would call it. It would be irrational to call it any other way.


  • You're right about the casualty rates. it dips and spikes, dips and spikes, and seems to average just about 2 soldiers a day.

    And yet, 2 soldier deaths a day is 2 too many. I am not advocating an immediate withdrawl (I think that would be the worst thing you could do.) I wish the U.S. and other countries could step up the military presence in Iraq so that security could really be brought to the country and give the politicans there time to create a stable gov't.

    And yet I wonder if the time for that military/political strategy has passed. Obviously Bush cannot politically send more troops to Iraq or take a sustained spike in U.S. casualties. Obviously the world is not going to help us out and send more troops. But I wonder if even if we did send another 250,000 troops into the country if the sectarian animosties haven't hardened so much that a political solution to the problems is simply impossible.

    It's depressing, because American men and women are dying every day for a failed policy that the administration refuses to admit has failed.

    By Blogger reality-based educator, at 3:54 PM  

  • I know, it is a tough one now. I saw this point coming from the beginning and thus my objection to the war going in. At this point there are few choices.

    I try to remain optimistic, but it seems like the longer this goes on, the more resent and thus radicalism festers.

    I am starting to look back and say, o.k. how could this have been different.

    I've been tossing around this idea that if we had gone in with a full force, somthing like gulf war 1, and actually put the place on lockdown. Rounding up anyone who can't prove they are not in the army and making them P.O.Ws. Then slowly regularlizing the Iraqi army, under close supervision.

    Along with this there would have to be a literal army of translators and intelligence specialists. To the greatest extent possible, documents (which I understand 90% remain untranslated making pundits on the right such as Hugh Hewitt furious) would have to be translated quickly, and swift justice for torturers and party apologists levied.

    Maybe this is just a fantasy, but looking back, the dismissal of the army gave the insurgency the supply of man power they needed to make it work. Which it has. They have managed to maintain a level of terror which is cripling everything in the country. Not a day goes by without an attack somewhere. There are 1000 iraqis dying a month (something not accounted for in "Situation Unchanged").

    My point is that something had to be done to prevent these guys from being left to their own devices. There was no official justice for any of the murderers of the old regime. No, that was settled on the streets. What was needed was a full accounting to the greatest extent possible. Now we have vigilante killing that has obviously escalated into something that makes gang wars seem tame. Civil war?

    I'm not sure, but it seems unlikely at this point that another outcome could present itself. The US reaction to the problem is unchanged. What it would take to truly occupy the country is no longer politically or economically viable.

    The window of opportunity is closing fast, and no one is making any moves.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 4:11 PM  

  • What did you think about Biden's partition plan, praguetwin? I haven't read the op-ed piece he published in the Times so I may not understand it correctly. But it seems to be a middle way between "stay the course" and full withdrawl. Iraq seems to be heading in that direction anyway (in some reports 40 bodies/execution victims a day are showing up in the morgues). Maybe that could put a stop to some of the worst excesses and/or head off the ethnic cleansing campaigns that right now seem inevitable.

    Ughh, what a mess. Fucking Rumsfeld. Fucking Cheney. Fucking Bush. And fucking people who supported this thing without thinking it through a la Brent Scowcroft. It sure does make me nostalgic for Old Man Bush's diplomatic approach to foreign policy. As you say, an overwhelming international force along the lines of Persian Gulf 1 would have worked better than this. of course, I'm don't think the circumstances in 2003 Iraq would have won over an overwhelming international contingent along the lines of the Persian Gulf 1 coalition. Which of course was the problem with this war from the beginning. There were simply better ways to obtain our objectives than taking Saddam out and the mess we are dealing with now in Iraq proves that.

    By Blogger reality-based educator, at 7:24 PM  

  • I confess that I haven't read it.

    It sounds pretty irresponsible if you ask me. I don't think we should go willy nilly into a whole new plan. Sectioning off the country presents its own set of problems including friction with Turkey, and a futher deepening ties between the Sadrists and Iran. Sadrists? Hell, the Shi'ia as a whole.

    I think the US should not attempted to tinker with it. The more we do, the more resentment and resistance we will get and the more we will be blamed in the unfortuante aftermath.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 8:46 PM  

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