Prague Twin

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Pause

Perhaps someone noticed that I took a pause from writing. At certain points I feel like I have nothing to say. I look back on where I started and realize that although I have been generally correct, it is totally irrelevant. I mean, who cares what some kooky ex-pat thinks about the war in Iraq? Well, I care, so here I am again.

When I first wrote something of substance on this blog, I had really just meant to say that despite the right claiming things are getting better and the left claiming things are getting worse (well, Mike doesn't actually claim it is getting worse, but the emphasis is there) things remain generally unchanged. Sure, there has been an upsurge in sectarian violence in Baghdad, but other places are much more under control than they were 9 months ago. Although the shape of the struggle has changed, it's intensity, more or less, remains stagnant. Coalition casualties in the first 8 months of 2006 are quite a bit lower than the last 8 months of 2005. However, the average of about 2 a day is still in play, and the Iraqi losses more than make up for the lower casualty rate among the coalition forces (almost all of which is American at this point).

Each day I think things are changing, that there is a turning point. But in the end, it just keeps trudging along at this slow, painfull pace.

Not long ago, I was considered a pessimist for my stalemate view. Now days,I think I would be considered an optimist.

6 Comments:

  • Pause noted and understood. All this passes.

    By Blogger Cartledge, at 7:00 PM  

  • Except that Iraqi casualties have sky-rocketed over the last six to eight months, culminating in July's horrific death toll.

    Iraqi casualties were down sharply in Baghdad in august as a result of the 8,000 extra U.S. troops and 3,000 extra Iraqi forces added as part of the new security plan, but then the wheels came off again over the weekend and violence spiked again.

    American casualties are tied to just how much the U.S. lets the Iraqis take the lead on security. You can see U.S. casualties starting to spike again now that they're out front and center in this new security plan. A week and a half ago, U.S. casualties for the month of august were in the mid-30's. 9 days later, the number stands at 61.

    But like anything, I guess it depends on how you look at the statstics. Still, to me it feels worse. But i see your point about treading water too, pt.

    By Blogger reality-based educator, at 10:03 PM  

  • I think you just proved my point. If American losses go down, Iraqi losses go up, and vica-versa. There are periods of relative calm and spikes of violence, but overall, what has really changed in the last 8 months?

    Very little from where I sit.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 9:53 AM  

  • I think the numbers of Iraqi CIVILIAN casualties have gone up tremendously, pt. 6 months ago, 1,000 Iraqi civilians a month were dying. By July, it was 3,500. The number of U.S. casualties is certainly related to what's happening w/ the Iraqi security forces (i.e., if the Iraqis are in charge of security operations, they take more of the casualties), but the number of Iraqi civilian casaulties is related more to how well those security operations are working. Maliki instituted a security plan in May that was a failure by June (even Bush said so.) Now they have instituted another security plan (this time adding 8,000 more U.S. troops to the mix.) That worked for about three weeks, but now Iraqi civilian casualties are back into the 500-800 a day range, below July's tally, but just barely.

    I think another thing that has changed in the last six months is that the Maliki gov't has lost nearly all crdebility w/ Iraqis ad w/ the Americans. For a long while, Bush could point to political progress in Itraq even while the violence was increasing. Now he can't even point to that. Just 100 days after Maliki finally formed his cabinet, he's purging "disloyal" elements, yet he still won't get rid of the Shiite militiamen for the security forces. Maliki is seen as weak and out of touch ("We are in an era of reconciliation" he said on CNN on Sunday as 100 people died in various incidents around the country.)

    It feels worse to me. And judging from how Bush and the admin talks about it (you never hear them say they are making "progress" anymore), they feel it's worse too.

    By Blogger reality-based educator, at 1:05 PM  

  • Sorry, I missed your point about civilians the first time around. Your point is well taken. It is so hard to get reliable numbers on civilian deaths.

    You mean 50-80 per day, right?

    Compared to the beginning of the war, this is less.

    It very well may be getting worse, but it just seems like the same old same old to me.

    You make good points about Maliki. On the other hand, having Maliki in there instead of Allawi seems like progress to me, even if just marginal.

    As much as things seem the same, I think I will have to eat my words by the end of the year, one way or another.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 2:04 PM  

  • I don't think I made my point about civilians to clear, pt. Sorry. Let me try again.

    The last six-seven months have seen a rise in civilian deaths EACH month, starting in January and continuing through July. July was the dealiest month, with 3,438 Iraqi civilian casualties (110 a day average). This was a 9% increase in civilian casualties from June and nearly double the casualty rate in january. For the first seven months of the year, 17,776 Iraqi civilians died between January 1st and July 31st, an average of 2,539 a month. But the last three months, May-July, were the most deadly, with July being the deadliest of the 7 month period.

    As a result of the escalating carnage, the U.S. military announced another new security plan to take back security. They brought in 8,000 troops from Anbar Province and elsewhere and also added 3,000 Iraqi troops. The extra 11,000 troops and police stemmed the violence for the first three weeks in August until everything exploded again this last weekend. Even with the decline in casualties this month, the average for August is 50-80 casaulties a day and that's with the added security forces.

    My point, (which has been rather circular and not articulated well - sorry, just returned to work today and am still dazed!), is that Iraqi civilian casaulties were picking up each month until the U.S. military was forced to bring in extra troops to Bahgdad to stem the violence (you remember my post on my blog about starting a draft and adding those troops to Iraq to get a handle on the chaos? I was reacting to the added 11,000 troops in Baghdad.) Even with the added troops, violence is spiking again and looks like it may reach July levels awful soon.

    I think that's why the war seems like it's getting worse to me. While you are right, pt, that the violence ebbs and flows, the levels of the flows seem to be ever higher each succeeding month and year. What was horrific in 2003 in terms of sectarian violence and insurgent activity now seems like simple day-to-day living in Iraq and when the violence surges in 2006, like it did this May-July, it REALLY surges.

    Just watching the U.S. military and even the Bush administration reacting to the violence, you can see we have turned a corner in Iraq. They think it's lost. Not in what they say, but in HOW they say it. Plus, rumor is that they are talking about doing something along the lines of Biden's partition plan to try and solve the sectarian problems. A few years ago, or even six months ago, the administration NEVER would have agreed to the even consider partition.

    By Blogger reality-based educator, at 9:31 PM  

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