Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 19, 2006

Weekly Attacks in Iraq: 11,343

"Weekly attacks in Iraq are now at an average of 11,343."

No, that is not from a major newspapers, though it should be.

Those all have top-pieces today about a DoD report to Congress and highlight that report's numbers of recorded attacks in Iraq. As stenographed by the fishwraps and according to the DOD report there were on average 959 attacks per week during the last three month.

But only two weeks ago the Iraq Study Group explained that these DoD numbers are systematically skewed to reflect only some 8.5% of the real number of attacks in Iraq. Still none of the papers reports puts any doubts on the DoD numbers or relates them to the ISG findings.

But they inform the public.


The Pentagon said yesterday that violence in Iraq soared this fall to its highest level on record and acknowledged that anti-U.S. fighters have achieved a "strategic success" by unleashing a spiral of sectarian killings by Sunni and Shiite death squads that threatens Iraq's political institutions.

In its most pessimistic report yet on progress in Iraq, the Pentagon described a nation listing toward civil war, with violence at record highs of 959 attacks per week, declining public confidence in government and "little progress" toward political reconciliation.
Pentagon Cites Success Of Anti-U.S. Forces in Iraq, WaPo, Dec. 19, 2006

For this report, the term “attacks” refers to specific incidents reported in the Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I) Significant Activities Database. It includes known attacks on Coalition forces, the ISF, the civilian population, and infrastructure. Attacks typically consist of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), small arms fire, and indirect fire weapons.
Defense Department quarterly report to Congress: Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq
(PDF), Dec. 18, 2006

In addition, there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq. The standard for recording attacks acts as a filter to keep events out of reports and databases. A murder of an Iraqi is not necessarily counted as an attack. If we cannot determine the source of a sectarian attack, that assault does not make it into the database. A roadside bomb or a rocket or mortar attack that doesn’t hurt U.S. personnel doesn’t count. For example, on one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals.

For journos and editors: 959 * 1,100 / 93 = 11,343

Posted by b on December 19, 2006 at 01:11 PM | Permalink


What all this says is, that the military situation has deteriorated way more significantly than we've been led to believe. That what we see now is not just a spike in the number of attacks, but a structural shift in the balance of power. Most recent embedded interviews with U.S. troops, would confirm the above reports, and all say that every time they go out on patrols they are attacked. Which would mean that essentially the "enemy" is everywhere and everyone, and that the U.S. military posture is being radically transformed into a defensive, rather than an offensive posture. I'm wondering whether the "surge" being contemplated might just be a euphemism for either climbing out and back to where we were, or worse, preventing an immediate and wholesale collapse or major military catastrophe. Or, in other words a Dien Bien Phu.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 19, 2006 4:10:51 PM | 1

annna missed

it's a new dance that's spreading across the nation : -

do ya doo yaa doya do dien bien phu
do ya doo yaa doya do dien bien phu

ô, lordy yes i do, ô lordy yes i do

an improvisation of course from the stalingrad salsa

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 19, 2006 4:19:57 PM | 2

More spin: NYT: Top Iraqi Shiite Cleric Is Inching Toward a Coalition

Iraq’s most venerated Shiite cleric has tentatively approved an American-backed coalition of Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish parties that aims to isolate extremists, particularly the powerful Shiite militia leader Moktada al-Sadr, Iraqi and Western officials say.
Ayatollah Sistani has grown increasingly distressed as the Shiite-led government has proved incapable of taming the violence and improving public services, Shiite officials say. He now appears to be backing away from his demand that the Shiite bloc play the dominant political role and that it hold together at all costs, Iraqi and Western officials say.
American officials have been told by intermediaries that Ayatollah Sistani “has blessed the idea of forming a moderate front,” according to a senior American official. “We wouldn’t have gotten this far without his support.”
Ok - that's the spin. So Maliki can kick out the Sadr fraction and build a "moderate" government with Sistani's belssing?
But what is the Ayatollah really saying?
In meetings with Shiite politicians at his home in Najaf about two weeks ago, the reclusive ayatollah laid out conditions that the new coalition would have to meet to win his full approval, according to Sheik Humam Hamoudi, a senior Shiite legislator.

A principal demand, Mr. Hamoudi said, was that any political realignment “preserve the unity” of the 130-member Shiite parliamentary bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance.
Perhaps resigned to the frailties of Shiite politics, Ayatollah Sistani has not made any recent public statements urging Shiite unity, nor has he been able to halt the violence.
the leader of the Supreme Council, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, approached Kurdish and Sunni Arab politicians about supporting a single candidate, according to Iraqi and Western officials.

But Ayatollah Sistani blocked the proposal in favor of preserving the Shiite bloc, the officials said. “The word from Najaf then was, ‘Thou shalt not do that,’ ” said an American official familiar with the discussions.

Tell me, is there any sign that Sistani has changed his stance other than the spin the reporter was told by "Iraqi and Western officials". If so, I fail to see it ...

Posted by: b | Dec 20, 2006 3:02:25 AM | 3

Gen. Abizadh seems to be on his way out. This reads like a "good bye" interview: General Opposes Adding to U.S. Forces in Iraq, Emphasizing International Solutions for Region

As the new secretary of defense, Robert M. Gates, takes stock of the war in Iraq this week, he will find Gen. John P. Abizaid, the senior commander in the Middle East, resistant to increasing the American fighting force there.
“The Baghdad security situation requires more Iraqi troops,” he said in a recent interview as he traveled around Iraq, meeting with American commanders.

His assessment, which includes plans to increase the number of American trainers embedded with Iraqi units, is supported by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior American commander in Iraq, as well as by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who must provide the forces and have resisted an increase without first clearly defining the goals it would try to achieve on the ground.
“You have to internationalize the problem,” General Abizaid said. “You have to attack it diplomatically, geo-strategically. You just can’t apply a microscope on a particular problem in downtown Baghdad and a particular problem in downtown Kabul and say that somehow or another, if you throw enough military forces at it, that you are going to solve the broader issues in the region of extremism.”

His views are out of sync with those of some officials in Washington. ...

Posted by: b | Dec 20, 2006 3:05:46 AM | 4

This now on CNN's webface:

Bush appears to shift outlook on Iraq

President Bush appeared to say for the first time that the United States is not winning the war in Iraq, adopting the view of Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Bush told The Washington Post, "I think an interesting construct that Gen. Pace uses is, 'We're not winning, we're not losing.' "

I want to work for Warner when I grow up, because the stuff they're smoking is clearly better than what us proles are getting...

Which is the more pathetic, here -- the media jumping on Bush's obtuse sameness as if this utterance meant anything other than evasion and yet another lie, or the pathetic self-delusion of the person who uttered it?

Posted by: Austin Cooper | Dec 20, 2006 10:01:35 AM | 5

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