Sunday, April 08, 2007

A winner no matter what

The conventional wisdom (here and here, for example) is that the "surge" strategy in Iraq is, so far, a success—as demonstrated just last weekend by Sen. John McCain's tour of the Shorja market in Baghdad, guarded by a hundred heavily-armed U.S. soldiers and five helicopters (1). Overlooked in most of the reporting on this April's Fool tour was the death of six Americans in the Baghdad area that same day and the murder of 21 Shorja market workers and merchants the following day.

But, of course, the surge can't lose, no matter what happens, for all the reasons expressed by Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money (April 8th):
Remember now; if the Mahdi Army lies low, then the Surge is working. If the Mahdi Army fights back, then the Surge is working. If the Mahdi Army has already dissolved, the Surge is working. If Sadr cooperates, the Surge is working. If he runs, the Surge is working. If he orders attacks, the Surge is working.

It's magical, this Surge; no matter what happens, the evidence demonstrates that the Surge is working. It can't fail! Any behavior taken by anyone in Iraq is a positive by-product of the Surge. I mean, sure, the Surge hasn't dented American casualty rates or Iraqi casualty rates for the country as a whole, but that also is evidence that it's working; the enemy is clearly desperate, which is why he's attacking us.
In fact, U.S. and "coalition" casualties have risen since the surge began, according to the detailed information compiled by the Iraq Coalition Casualties (ICC) site. In the first week of April, for example, 35 Americans and 6 Brits have been killed in Iraq, an average of 5.12 per day compared to 2.65 per day in March and 3 per day in February. If the fatality rate for the first 14 weeks of the year continues, 2007 would be by far the deadliest year for the U.S. since the war began (2):

YearUS Deaths
Extrapolating from these numbers, over 1,000 U.S. fatalities could be expected this year. Since the surge relies heavily on aggressive short-term urban combat by Americans embedded in neighborhoods with Iraqi police, the casualty rate could easily go higher as the number of troops in Baghdad increases.

Which, for the Bushies, would only prove that the surge is working.


(1) Frank Rich's account of this media event for the New York Times (April 7th) skewers both McCain and the surge very nicely, but you can only read it if you subscribe.

(2) From the ICC site, last updated on April 8, 2007. Since then, as reported on tonight's news, six more U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq.

PHOTO: The Shorja market in Baghdad on a day last August when Sen. John McCain and his protective task force were elsewhere.

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