Favorable trends in Iraq

Greg Richards
While we never want to be casual about our military fatalities in Iraq; still, given the high consequences for the country of the war and the conscious sacrifice of the troops who have volunteered to protect us from our enemies, it is worthwhile to keep track of events in Iraq.  The recent trend of our military deaths in Iraq is favorable, which is not what was expected by the critics of the Petraeus strategy:
US Military Fatalities in Iraq

Military deaths in October were 38, down from 64 in September and from the peak so far for 2007 of 126 in May.  As can be seen from the chart, which includes data for 2006 and 2007, we have been at these levels before.  So there can be no certainty that this improvement is permanent until a political settlement is finally achieved.  But in terms of the present, it is clear that the military situation in Iraq is by no means spiraling out of control.

What of Iraqi casualties?  There is improvement here as well:

Iraqi fatalities

The numbers for both U.S. fatalities and Iraqi fatalities come in the context of the political improvement in the Sunni provinces around Baghdad and recent steps toward joint operations between Sunni and Shia forces.

Perhaps most important is the discrediting of al-Qaeda in Iraq.  While there seemed to be great interest in the recent tapes from Osama bin Laden, if he were a Western politician, the word "discredited" would now be the reference point for him.  His ideas of savagery against the umma were tried and have been repudiated once the citizenry was able to marry up with American firepower.

We don't know what the outcome of the Iraq War will be.  But what appears most likely is that our policy will ultimately be one of what the British call "muddling through"  - meaning using tactical flexibility to seize opportunities while moving forward with a strategy. The course of General Petraeus' campaign has not been what was originally expected, but it has been stunningly successful as Iraqis have been able to compare the sterling qualities of our troops against the vicious savagery of radical Ialam.  Whether this will also provide the basis for overcoming sectarianism will have to be seen, but the trends are promising.
While we never want to be casual about our military fatalities in Iraq; still, given the high consequences for the country of the war and the conscious sacrifice of the troops who have volunteered to protect us from our enemies, it is worthwhile to keep track of events in Iraq.  The recent trend of our military deaths in Iraq is favorable, which is not what was expected by the critics of the Petraeus strategy:
US Military Fatalities in Iraq

Military deaths in October were 38, down from 64 in September and from the peak so far for 2007 of 126 in May.  As can be seen from the chart, which includes data for 2006 and 2007, we have been at these levels before.  So there can be no certainty that this improvement is permanent until a political settlement is finally achieved.  But in terms of the present, it is clear that the military situation in Iraq is by no means spiraling out of control.

What of Iraqi casualties?  There is improvement here as well:

Iraqi fatalities

The numbers for both U.S. fatalities and Iraqi fatalities come in the context of the political improvement in the Sunni provinces around Baghdad and recent steps toward joint operations between Sunni and Shia forces.

Perhaps most important is the discrediting of al-Qaeda in Iraq.  While there seemed to be great interest in the recent tapes from Osama bin Laden, if he were a Western politician, the word "discredited" would now be the reference point for him.  His ideas of savagery against the umma were tried and have been repudiated once the citizenry was able to marry up with American firepower.

We don't know what the outcome of the Iraq War will be.  But what appears most likely is that our policy will ultimately be one of what the British call "muddling through"  - meaning using tactical flexibility to seize opportunities while moving forward with a strategy. The course of General Petraeus' campaign has not been what was originally expected, but it has been stunningly successful as Iraqis have been able to compare the sterling qualities of our troops against the vicious savagery of radical Ialam.  Whether this will also provide the basis for overcoming sectarianism will have to be seen, but the trends are promising.