Fact Checking General Petraeus and the Surge

Most Americans see Bush as having little to no credibility at this point, but many do trust the military i.e. the military commanders to be honest. The military including Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace, Army Chief of Staff George Casey and Former Secretary of State Colin Powell may not have been as aggressively forthright as many would like, but they have certainly been more honest then the administration. That makes General Petraeus’s testimony all the more disappointing for its lack of candor. The general stated that the methods used to track sectarian violence in Iraq was approved by two intelligence agencies, but failed to name them or elaborate on the exact nature of their methodology. – Fact Checking General Petraeus: Today’s Testimony Offers Few Answers

* However, U.S. Intelligence Officials Questioned Pentagon’s Methods of Tracking Violence in Iraq. “The intelligence community has its own problems with military calculations. Intelligence analysts computing aggregate levels of violence against civilians for the NIE puzzled over how the military designated attacks as combat, sectarian or criminal, according to one senior intelligence official in Washington. ‘If a bullet went through the back of the head, it’s sectarian,’ the official said. ‘If it went through the front, it’s criminal.'” [Washington Post, 9/6/07]

* A Military Spokesman Admitted It Did Not Track Shiite-on-Shiite or Sunni-on-Sunni Violence. “According to a spokesman for the Baghdad headquarters of the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), those attacks are not included in the military’s statistics. ‘Given a lack of capability to accurately track Shiite-on-Shiite and Sunni-on-Sunni violence, except in certain instances,’ the spokesman said, ‘we do not track this data to any significant degree.'” [Washington Post, 9/6/07]

* And, the GAO Found Claims of Decreased Sectarian Violence Could Not Be Verified. “On trends in sectarian violence, we could not determine if sectarian violence had declined since the start of the Baghdad Security Plan. The administration’s July 2007 report stated that MNF-I trend data demonstrated a decrease in sectarian violence since the start of the Baghdad Security Plan in mid-February 2007. The report acknowledged that precise measurements vary, and that it was too early to determine if the decrease would be sustainable.” [GAO Report: Securing, Stabilizing and Rebuilding Iraq, September 2007]

The car bomb has been referred to as the poor insurgent’s WMD and they have been used quite frequently in Iraq, yet

* However, The Military Does Not Include Car Bombings in Sectarian Violence Statistics. “According to U.S. military figures, an average of 1,000 Iraqis have died each month since March in sectarian violence. That compares with about 1,200 a month at the start of the security plan, the military said in an e-mailed response to queries. This does not include deaths from car bombings, which the military said have numbered more than 2,600 this year.” [LA Times, 9/4/07 ]

* And, The Number of Car Bombings In Iraq Was Five Percent Higher in July 2007 than in December 2006. The number of car bombings in July actually was 5 percent higher than the number recorded last December, according to statistics given to the McClatchy news organization, and the number of civilians killed in explosions is about the same. [McClatchy Newspapers, 8/15/07]

Again, one of reasons Bush and his supporters (lack of genuineness aside) claim that we must stay in order to protect the Iraqi people just doesn’t add up, Civilian Deaths Steady through Surge; August Secret Official Toll Staggering 2,890; Mahdi Army Continuing Ethnic Cleansing

“[In Baghdad] the push to drive Sunnis from Shiite neighborhoods continues in a city that U.S. military officers say has gone from being 65 percent Sunni to being 75 percent Shiite . . .

Unidentified bodies continue to show up daily in Baghdad, though the pace is lower than it was last December, when 1,030 bodies were found . . . dropping . . . to 428 in August. Some military officials and many residents attribute the generally lower numbers not to the U.S. security plan, but to the purges in mixed neighborhoods that have left militants with fewer people to kill.

Of an estimated 1 million Iraqis who’ve fled their homes since February 2006, 83 percent are from Baghdad, the IOM says.

Between the simmering genocide and the exodus of Sunnis to escape the violence, sure if we stay a few more years there might be a lower level of violence. What Bush and his supporters do not seem to care about is that in the mean time a large portion of the population will either be dead or a refugee and that will be the real reason the rate of violence goes down. The Bushies don’t seem to care that they’re burning down the house to stop the ceiling from leaking. For a political party that still gives us daily reminders that they are the great gurus of foreign policy and bold ideas their approach to solving the Iraq morass is ironically pathetic.

Loch Tulla wallpaper

Loch Tulla wallpaper 

Violence In Iraq Is Beyond Our Control 

The breakdown of legal order is apparent in two basic statistical observations. First, using standard epidemiological methods, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Public Health estimated that more than 600,000 deaths from violent causes occurred in Iraq between 2003 and 2006 and that no part of the country escaped the affliction. Their estimate is nearly 10 times greater than estimates of civilian casualties based on Pentagon reports and records compiled by the independent Iraq Body Count, which aggregates international press reports.

[  ]…One might also compare the civilian fatality reports from Iraq with the reliably documented details of violence in Baltimore. In 2006, there were 275 murders in the city, which has a population of about 650,000. The same murder rate, scaled up to the Iraqi population of 27 million, would produce 11,500 violent deaths per year and 45,500 killed over four years of conflict.

Reports based on Pentagon and Iraq Body Count sources estimate that about 75,000 civilians were killed in Iraq over the first four years of the conflict. This suggests that Iraq is less than twice as violent as Baltimore. In stark contrast, the Johns Hopkins estimate of 600,000 violent deaths over four years suggests that Iraq is 10 to 15 times more violent than Baltimore. The latter is intuitively more consistent with qualitative impressions.

The statistics are interesting in that invariably supporters of the counterproductive  mess in Iraq will fail to account for the contrast in proportion of  the population when comparing some U.S. city’s murder rate with Iraq fatalities.