A Government Accounting Office report has found that the Iraqi government has not met 13 of 18 benchmarks set by the US Congress. The report was leaked before it could be doctored by the Bush administration, which promptly denounced it and pledged to . . . doctor it.
Another thing that could be said is that of the 18 congressional benchmarks some are frankly trivial. The trivial ones are the only ones met.
I personally find the controversy about Iraq in Washington to be bizarre. Are they really arguing about whether the situation is improving? I mean, you have the Night of the Living Dead over there. People lack potable water, cholera has broken out even in the good areas, a third of people are hungry, a doubling of the internally displaced to at least 1.1 million, and a million pilgrims dispersed just this week by militia infighting in a supposedly safe all-Shiite area. The government has all but collapsed, with even the formerly cooperative sections of the Sunni Arab political class withdrawing in a snit (much less more Sunni Arabs being brought in from the cold). The parliament hasn't actually passed any legislation to speak of and often cannot get a quorum. Corruption is endemic. The weapons we give the Iraqi army are often sold off to the insurgency. Some of our development aid goes to them, too.
The average number of Iraqis killed in 2007 per day exceeds those killed in 2006. Independent counts by news organizations do not agree with Pentagon estimates about drops in civilian deaths over-all. Nation-wide attacks in June reached a daily all-time high of 177.5. True, violence in Baghdad has been wrestled back down to the levels of summer, 2006 (hint: it wasn't paradise), but violence levels are up in the rest of the country. If you compare each month in 2006 with each month in 2007 with regard to US military deaths, the 2007 picture is dreadful.
I saw on CNN this smarmy Bush administration official come and and say that US troop deaths had fallen because of the surge, which is why we should support it. Just read the following chart bottom to top and compare 2006 month by month to 2007. US troop deaths haven't fallen. They are way up. Besides, they would be zero if the US were not occupying Iraq militarily, so if we should support a policy that leads to fewer troop deaths, that is the better policy.
Here are the US troop death via Icasualties.org.
8-2007 77 8-2006 65
7-2007 79 7-2006 43
6-2007 101 6-2006 61
5-2007 126 5-2006 69
4-2007 104 4-2006 76
3-2007 81 3-2006 31
2-2007 81 2-2006 55
1-2007 83 1-2006 62
I mean, how brain dead do the Bushies think we are, peddling this horse manure that US troop deaths have fallen? (There are always seasonal variations because in the summer it is 120 F. in the shade and guerrillas are too heat-exhausted to fight; but the summer 2007 numbers are much greater than those for summer 2006; that isn't progress.) And why does our corporate media keep repeating this Goebbels-like propaganda? Do we really live in an Orwellian state?
I'm at a conference. I would make a chart to illustrate the above if I had the time. Somebody else please do it. Maybe we bloggers can unite to keep the debate from being conducted on false premises for once.
Repeat: US troop deaths in Iraq have not fallen and that is not a reason to support the troop escalation. And, violence in Iraq has not fallen because of the surge. Violence is way up this year.
Juan Cole Blogs at Informed Comment
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