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05 October 2006

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Tom

Is not the greater military issue that the "insurgents", whomever they are, can determine the rate that they inflict causalities are the greatest army in history?

Friendly Fire

October 2005 was also pretty high at 99 casualties compared to average.

londamium

Pat

The current spike in casualties has nothing much to do with the upcoming US elections - it is purely a function of the islamic calendar for the section of the Iraqi insurgency that is wedded to Sunni and/or Salafi jihadist ideologies.

Attacks on US forces spike during Ramadan, and are at their annual minimum around the Haj period. The current upsurge is a repeat of an observable pattern that has been ongoing for the past four years.

W. Patrick Lang

londamium

You are sure now? Really sure? You don't think there might be just a little attentin being paid to US politics? pl

Michael

Did I not read somewhere that the US has changed the definitions regarding deaths, injuries, etc in Iraq to try and minimize the real figures? I will see if I can find that article and post here.

Will

Professor Juan Cole reports 13 (?) since last Saturday. 4 Wednesday.

There's only one way out of this quagmire. For two principled men to align themselves and make a stand. One John Murtha has made a public stand. Now it's time for a certain lieutenant general "to fall on his sword," resign in protest and make a public statement.

" As excerpted in Newsweek magazine from State of Denial:
"On March 16, General John Abizaid, the commander of CENTCOM and thus the top military officer for the Middle East, was in Washington to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He painted a careful but upbeat picture of the situation in Iraq. Afterward, he went over to see Congressman John Murtha, the 73-year old former Marine who had introduced a resolution the previous November calling for the redeployment of troops from Iraq as soon as practicable. Sitting at the round, dark wood table in the congressman’s office, Abizaid, the one uniformed military commander who had been intimately involved in Iraq from the beginning and who was still at it, indicated he wanted to speak frankly. According to Murtha, Abizaid raised his hand for emphasis and held his thumb and forefinger a quarter of an inch from each other and said, “We’re that far apart.”"[28] "

in my heart of heart, I never thought he was a Kool Aid sipper.

Best Wishes

The Wanderer

I seem to recall a history of Vietnam in which someone in the Johnson Administration actually said that the Viet Cong and the NVA were reading the 'Congressional Record' to make their attacks coincide with crucial votes.
It sounded silly at the time.

W. Patrick Lang

Wanderer

At the end of the VN War I was in Saigon and met a number of NVA and VC officers out at the USAF officer's club at Tan Son Nhut Air Base. Under the terms of the armistice, some of them were let into town.

A couple of them told me that their troops and staffs often watched US Armed Forces Television out in the field and were very interested in the US news. pl

Fred

Pat, I believe your June archives show some notables still at large, like Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri. Do you know if he's still at large and likely to be running part of this show? As for casualties Bush and his allies won't care since it is not their children paying the price of their inept leadership - they simply reap the rewards.

John Howley

Looking back at monthly rate of U.S. fatalities, there is clearly a seasonal effect. Too early to tell whether this "spike" is part of that or the start of something new.

What is clear from the data is that there is no downward trend in U.S. fatalities. In other words, the potency of the enemy is NOT decreasing.

That is the long-term trend.

http://icasualties.org/oif/

Will

the new big bad guy according to Cole is Moqtadr al-Sadr. A big assault is being planned on him. A dollar to a donut the Mahdi Army has been watching the Israel-HA War for pointers.

Recently an active duty Israeli brigadier resigned in protest over Halutz's conduct of that war.

Yesterday an active duty duty liutenant general (on leave and a month away from retirment) called for Halutz to resign AND for Olmert.

This second guy Yiftah Ron-Tal is a right wing Likudnik in bed with Bibi, but still it's unheard of in Israel for active duty generals to criticize the goverment. It's an open question whether he resigned before he got fired that same day.

Colonel, would it do any good for active duty U.S. general officers to resign in protest of the Irag war policy?

Would any of them have the guts?

Is Murtha a cad for betraying Abizaid's confidence?

Are the knives going to be out for Abizaid now?

Is so, what's he got to lose for telling the truth about what we should do in Irak, mainly redeploy?

Best Wishes

Byron Raum

Deaths spike during Ramadan because everyone is in a cranky mood due to low blood sugar, and they are at a minimum during the Hajj because all the diehard extremists are off in Saudi Arabia, piously running around the Grand Mosque and indistinguishable from their brethren.

arbogast

President Bush: "when the final history is written on Iraq it will look like just a comma because there is -- my point is there's a strong will for democracy."

One day it's the equivalent of World War II; the next it's a comma.

But if you have crippling, disfiguring injuries, or if you husband, father, or son is dead, whether he be American, British, or Iraqi, it is the same: a terrible human tragedy brought about by the stupidity and belligerence of a single individual.

hfiend

Well if so, let's hold the elections next Tuesday.

jonst

The heightened casualties and their relationship, if any, to the American election, is interesting to speculate about.

As a general proposition you might say that those in Iraq, interested in ending the occupation/presence (take your pick…not my point here to be distracted with that argument) might conclude their chances are improved by upping the number. On the simple theory that the more soldiers killed/wounded, the more Americans might vote for ‘a change’. And said “change” will almost certainly result in increasing the odds that Americans will be out sooner than later. Note I only refer to odds. Bush does not have to listen to anybody or, be bound, for the most part, by any law. And let one particular 89 year old man die and he might not have to follow any law.

However, if you wanted the Americans to ‘stay the course’, and as such, keep on self- destructing, you might want America to say. There has been some general commentary that this was, and is, AQ’s plan in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

So, to the extent the deaths spike….it might tell people (the doubters, anyway) who the driving force of the insurgency in Iraq really is.

Just a thought.
Is it about time for a tape right before the election by OBL or another, saying "we are kicking their asses right out of Iraq...they are this close to 'cutting and running. They don't have the staying power"?

dan

Let me put it this way. If there were no elections coming up in the US this November, there would still be a spike in casualties that corresponded to the current Ramadan period. So, as regards the religiously motivated elements of the Sunni insurgency, I don't think it's a factor.

The "X" factor is whether the conflict between some elements in the Sadrist militia and US forces in Baghdad goes back on the boil or not. My guess is that this showdown, if it comes, will be postponed until after the election ( per the Rove dictum of "no war in 2004" as applied to Fallujah ). Now, it's possible that the Sadrist extremes will go on the offensive with an eye to the political effects in the US, but I've yet to see any signs of this beyond an insistence that US patrols stay out of Sadr City, or we'll start shooting; this could of course change in the next four weeks.

What has been notable thus far is the absence of recourse to martyrdom operations - whether against coalition forces or other Iraqis - by the Iraqi Shia; I would interpret a change in this "posture", should it happen, to be indicative of an attempt to convince the US electorate, that Iraq is lost. Then again it seems that a plurality of the US electorate already believes this and are still waiting for the political and elite media class to catch up with that judgement.

I've no doubt that those elements in the Sunni insurgency/Shia political opposition to Bush administration "designs" that pay very close attention to the US political scene also know full well that there will be no end to the US military presence whilst the Bush administration is in office, irrespective of the outcome of the elections in November. If I'm not mistaken, the monies for 2007 have already been appropriated and it would be tough to get a cut-off in funds in the electorally significant run-up to the 2008 presidential election.

Whilst it's difficult to really get a feel for the texture of US public sentiment from the other side of the Atlantic, I'm not hearing a loud and clear "troops out" message from the Democrats. Whilst I get the impression that the US public in general has already had its fill of casualties, any canny observer of US cable news will also know that there is an enormous disconnect between the political class and the American public, and that there is no third force to articulate an alternative.

tom

Tom again hopefully with better grammer:
Is not the greater military issue that the "insurgents", whomever they are, can determine the rate that they inflict casualities ON (not "are") the greatest army in history?
Who's controlling the battlefield years, billions of dollars and untold casualities later?

sonic

Is this rise not more likely to be caused by the US armies "offensive" in Baghdad?

Tom

Sonic,
The LA Times agrees:
“U.S. officials ...said the recent increases could be attributable to U.S. troops' greater exposure to combat since redeploying in early August from heavily guarded bases to Baghdad's streets.”

If this is true, then the notion that the insurgents are “paying attention to US elections is false” – seems to me.

fasteddiez

Colonel,

The rumor back in the Vietnam theater was that if you had too many Ops (sweeps, walks in the sun, hammer on anvil, etc., yechhh) going on simultaneously, and you were reaching the pre-Tet norm of 200-250 Kia's a week, the ops got scaled down. Of course this model went to hell during Tet and for at least a sizable part of the year after when the kia's reached 600 per week (I think I'm pretty close on the stats).

My point is that Pentagon Bean counters under the orders of the National Command Authority (NCA) could be under pressure to come up with a series of like "scamolas" to regulate casualties.

It is obvious that the Op Tempo (excluding parts of Baghdad) is down (less activity in Anbar, Ramadi being worse that Fallujah ever was, The area north of Baghdad all but abandoned by US forces, and the area just south of Baghdad also with a reduced presence.

If (with the exception of Baghdad) the US forces withdraws to its' Superbases (int'l airport, Balad, Al Assad, etc.), the patrol perimeters will shrink even further, and the Iraqis (all Iraqis) will plant IED's EFP's and station and man suicidal VBIED's every 10 yards on the shrunken road network, thereby concussing any vehicle-borne unit into the next week. Not so smart a strategy, this permanent Fobbit base thingy, methinks.

The dog that has not barked in this pre-election scenario is the Iranian IRGC and its' so called cat's paws (SCIRI, DAWA, and MEHDI army militants). Should they choose to amp up the "Uglymeter," all over the country, things could become interesting.

If I were an Iranian planner, I would try to finagle my cat's paws into action, with the understanding and expectation that they might turn into 1968's Viet cong (martyred corpses), all the better for the Iranians, I think. The NCA's intel people probably fear this, hence the administration's talking points about striking Iran.

What about our side? If the past is prelude, one has to come to the conclusion that if brains were dynamite, The NCA's would not have enough to blow the snots out of a pissant's nostril's (USMC expression).

Yohan

It should be noted that while the local resistance wants the US to leave, the foreign jihadis are all too happy to have the US stay so that they can use the Iraq occupation as a selling point for their ideology. Staying merely plays into their hands.

Abu Sinan

I agree. Americans tend to think of Arabs as not knowing much about the USA. It is my first hand experience that they know much more about us than we know about them.

I think it is a combination of things. Ramadan, up-coming elections, and more US troops in Iraq.

I think after November we are going to go after as-Sadr. Look out when we do.

confusedponderer

I think it is pretty unavoidable that insurgents take into account the domestic reaction on US casualties, when they are staging waves of attacks. They know what they are doing, and are thinking about it.

On the other hand, the recent spikes can also be interpreted as a sign of 'can do'. They attack the US more, and inflict more casualties on them, because they can, not only or so much because they want to weaken the US 'homefront' in a 'last throes effort'. In that case the domestic reaction would be the side benefit of beating the occupier. That would be an indication of the US failing to roll back the insurgency. This is my concern.

The Bushites say that wavering support at home is encouraging the enemy by telling him he is succeeding. To an extent that observation is correct.

But this isn't about lack of resolve. The US society *is* willing to invest casualties for a cause, and in case the homeland would be threatened directly this willingness would extend to quite a large number. However, the cause in Iraq is non-existential for the US. So is the threat posed by Al Quaeda. The threat of terrorism isn't persuasive enough to keep up the 'threat' level to justify a 'perpetual war for perpetual peace'. So, it also isn't persuasive enough to keep up support for an ever increasing US bodycount (the only one relevant in the US anyway).
There was no wavering after the bloody invasion of Normandy's beaches - because the cause then was undisputed.

The neo-cons are mistaken insofar as they are delude themselves and attempt to delude their audience about the nature of the cause today, that only in their eyes is justifying the sacrifice.

The question they haven't convincingly answered in three years is what Iraq had to do with Al Quaeda and 9/11, and how 9/11 necessiated attacking Iraq - at a time when the Afghanistan war wasn't finished and the main culprit still on the loose (which three years later is still the case). They cannot make that argument other than on a very abstract level. Freedom! Liberty! Blah-blah.

Their advantage in this approach is that it allows them to hide behind lofty, abstract terms, and take cheap shots (of the: 'so you hate Freedom, you terr'ist hugging, wimpy commie?'-variety) and avoid dealing with arguments. They will succeed in further stalling a reality-based assessment of US policies in the so-called Greater Middle East.

Robert L. Quade

The heart of Al Quida is in Afghanastan/Pakistan why are the troops being transfered to bolster a puppet in Iraq that no one wants but Snerd? I am shocked at recognizing the first person with a minus IQ but even more disturbing is that it is the President of the United States.

Alex

Colonel Lang, there seems to have been a rapid increase in US casualties attributed to small arms lately. Even CNN has noticed that snipers are getting to be a serious problem: link.

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