Speaker Pelosi and the Missing Ramadan Spike

This year, for the first time since our troops have been in Iraq, the Ramadan Spike has failed to materialize. Few events in Iraq were as predictable as the yearly rise in causalities it signified. In 2004, 2005, and 2006, shortly before and during the autumn months in which Ramadan has recently occurred, violence against US forces escalated significantly.

Not this year.

The missing Ramadan Spike is an immutable sign that Iraq has entered a new phase. What seemed to be an unstoppable cycle of violence has diminished. Ramadan began either on September 12th or 13th of 2007, depending on your source. As of this writing Ramadan is more than halfway over. Not only has the monthly U.S. death toll decreased since August (barring any spectacular attacks or accidents before the end of the month) but within the month the daily death toll appears to have actually slowed down over Ramadan.

The Ramadan Spike has become the Ramadan Slump.

Look at icasualties.org statistics for September. The website is well-run and often matches up with available DoD statistics before the DoD posts them. The beginning of the month showed several (five or six) deaths per listing. Toward the middle of the month it started listing closer to two or three fatalities per listing (granted that the last few days always will be lower, as death announcements are delayed to allow time to inform families).

A bar chart on icasualties.org of hostile deaths shows US forces are experiencing the longest and largest drop in hostile fatalities since the war began. Iraqi police, military, and civilian fatalities have crashed to less than a third of what they were at the beginning of the year.  Although the data are acknowledged to be imprecise, a consistent methodology is in use, so the trend is significant.

U.S. forces killed in combat (not accidents or health reasons) stand at forty-two for the month of September, as of this writing on September, 30th. By comparison, the DoD suffers an average of 250 accidental deaths a year in peace time, or just under twenty-one a month.

Monthly fatalities caused by hostile action may soon barely exceed peace-time on duty deaths.

Yet Speaker Pelosi has been asserting just the opposite.

Only a few weeks ago the Speaker referred to Iraq in terms of a "staggeringly high level of violence." And just days before General Petraeus testified, the Speaker released a statement in which, under the headline "U.S. TROOP CASUALTIES RISING," referenced "June, July and August 2007." 

In fact, this was a period of time in which losses due to hostile action dropped by over 50% from May. US forces' overall fatalities in Iraq dropped by 33% in that same time period.

But inaccuracies like that are not isolated. On June 13th, 2007 the Speaker sent the President a letter that read:
"In fact, the last two months of the war were the deadliest to date for U.S. troops."
According to icasualties.org, which is often referenced in the Speaker's own press releases, in no month in this year did US forces in Iraq experience more fatalities than the two highest months of 2004.

So who is the one "cooking the books"?

Ray Robison is proprietor of the blog Ray Robison: Pointing out the Obvious to the Oblivious.
This year, for the first time since our troops have been in Iraq, the Ramadan Spike has failed to materialize. Few events in Iraq were as predictable as the yearly rise in causalities it signified. In 2004, 2005, and 2006, shortly before and during the autumn months in which Ramadan has recently occurred, violence against US forces escalated significantly.

Not this year.

The missing Ramadan Spike is an immutable sign that Iraq has entered a new phase. What seemed to be an unstoppable cycle of violence has diminished. Ramadan began either on September 12th or 13th of 2007, depending on your source. As of this writing Ramadan is more than halfway over. Not only has the monthly U.S. death toll decreased since August (barring any spectacular attacks or accidents before the end of the month) but within the month the daily death toll appears to have actually slowed down over Ramadan.

The Ramadan Spike has become the Ramadan Slump.

Look at icasualties.org statistics for September. The website is well-run and often matches up with available DoD statistics before the DoD posts them. The beginning of the month showed several (five or six) deaths per listing. Toward the middle of the month it started listing closer to two or three fatalities per listing (granted that the last few days always will be lower, as death announcements are delayed to allow time to inform families).

A bar chart on icasualties.org of hostile deaths shows US forces are experiencing the longest and largest drop in hostile fatalities since the war began. Iraqi police, military, and civilian fatalities have crashed to less than a third of what they were at the beginning of the year.  Although the data are acknowledged to be imprecise, a consistent methodology is in use, so the trend is significant.

U.S. forces killed in combat (not accidents or health reasons) stand at forty-two for the month of September, as of this writing on September, 30th. By comparison, the DoD suffers an average of 250 accidental deaths a year in peace time, or just under twenty-one a month.

Monthly fatalities caused by hostile action may soon barely exceed peace-time on duty deaths.

Yet Speaker Pelosi has been asserting just the opposite.

Only a few weeks ago the Speaker referred to Iraq in terms of a "staggeringly high level of violence." And just days before General Petraeus testified, the Speaker released a statement in which, under the headline "U.S. TROOP CASUALTIES RISING," referenced "June, July and August 2007." 

In fact, this was a period of time in which losses due to hostile action dropped by over 50% from May. US forces' overall fatalities in Iraq dropped by 33% in that same time period.

But inaccuracies like that are not isolated. On June 13th, 2007 the Speaker sent the President a letter that read:
"In fact, the last two months of the war were the deadliest to date for U.S. troops."
According to icasualties.org, which is often referenced in the Speaker's own press releases, in no month in this year did US forces in Iraq experience more fatalities than the two highest months of 2004.

So who is the one "cooking the books"?

Ray Robison is proprietor of the blog Ray Robison: Pointing out the Obvious to the Oblivious.