Monday, 7 January 2008

The lie and the tragedy behind the surge

Iraq Body Count have calculated the number of deaths in Iraq in 2007 was the second highest in any year since the invasion, according to an article in The Independent:

IBC compiles its data from official sources, including the Pentagon, and found that between 22,586 and 24,159 civilian deaths were documented for 2007, with the vast majority of those killed between January and August.

The most lethal violence took place in Nineva, where the number of deaths rose by 143 per cent. Baghdad on the other hand saw a decline of around 39 per cent after a drastic fall in numbers of deaths in the last three months of the year.

The first eight months of 2007 also saw the highest number of car-bombings in the Iraq. The report claims that last year there were 20 explosive devices that killed more than 50 civilians, compared with 12 bombings in 2006.

The number of civilians killed during operations involving US forces in the past 12 months also rose, from between 544 and 623 in 2006 to between 868 and 1,326 in 2007. The report claims that most of these casualties were linked to air strikes, in which 88 children were reported to have died. (2)
What this shows is that the surge has had an effect, in a very limited area - the KPI of Baghdad, basically, but the rest of the country has pretty much continued to go bloodily to Hell. The truth is that people are still dying, as fast or faster than before.

I don't think you could say that the surge has worked - to paraphrase Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past, it is just a way to fail more slowly. Boosting troop numbers in Baghdad has brought a degree stability. But losing slowly in Baghdad isn't enough, because the losing outside Baghdad is accelerating - the losing of lives, I mean.

It its mind-boggling - and sickening - to contemplate the incompetence of the people who thought that Iraq could be controlled with a token force. We shouldn't be surprised - these are the same sort of people (in some cases, the very same people) who supported Saddam in the 80s and quashed the Prevention of Genocide bill to avoid having to condemn his murderous regime, post Halabja. They are evil, ruthless people, and also, arrogant, over-confident and very stupid.

And these are the people who lambast liberals and leftwingers as niave and unrealistic. Even if these claims are true, the consequences of niaveity and unrealism can't be worse than idiocy coupled with megalomania and a sense of divinely ordained mission.
1 - 'Iraq death rate belies US claims of success,' by Kim Sengupta in The Independent, 7th of January, 2008. (http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article3315022.ece)

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