Sunday, September 02, 2007

The latest surge in spin

Supporters of the war in Iraq are pointing to reduced American casualties in Iraq over the past three months as evidence that the Bush administration’s so-called “surge” is working. But as others have noted, U.S. casualties fall every summer during Iraq’s warmest months, because, as Middle East expert Juan Cole writes, “it is hot as hell.” And former CIA analyst Larry Johnson points out on his blog "No Quarter," (with an accompanying visual aid) that even with the recent drop, American casualties are still well above the numbers from previous years:
“For the first eight months of 2007 there have been 735 American troops killed and 4430 wounded. This is significantly higher than the casualty rate in 2005 or 2006. We have 1000 more dead and wounded this year than last year for the period January-August.”

In addition, according to the website, which tracks the number of Coalition casualties in Iraq, 261 Americans died in Iraq over the past three months. Comparatively, 169 Americans died over the same period last year. That means the supposed "reduction" in American casualties currently being heralded by war supporters actually represents an increase in American deaths in Iraq by more than 50%.

McClatchy news service also notes in their report on the figures that many analysts don’t see the recent slight reduction in American casualties as having any affect on the overall security situation in Iraq, which needless to say, remains dire :
'Others, however, noted that as U.S. combat deaths have dropped, deaths among Iraqi civilians have remained constant, and the “ethnic cleansing” of Baghdad’s neighborhoods has continued almost unabated.'

Despite the dishonesty in claiming that American casualties are down in Iraq when they are actually higher than in the past, expect this to be the one of the key pro-war talking points come General Petreaus’ report to Congress later this month. Of course one might ask, if the number of casualties is still higher than last year, how is this evidence that the “surge” is "working," much less doing anything to alter the overall security situation in Iraq? How has it improved the lives of the Iraqi people? And if one believes it has improved their situation, then why are more and more Iraqis fleeing their homes every day?

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