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(Promoted by SusanG)

As U.S. casualties have continued to drop, many people on the anti-Bush side of the aisle have begun to quietly panic in recent days over this question: "Could George W. Bush and Frederick Kagan have possibly been right about the surge?"

Simply put, the answer is no.  The surge is not working and George W. Bush and Frederick Kagan were not right.  Despite what right-wing blogs are saying, and despite what conservative observers are noting, the plunge in violence is actually the result of an Iraqi political decision made by and implemented by Iraqis—and the drop has little to do with the "surge"—an infusion of 30,000 troops (which wouldn’t fill a Major League stadium) into Baghdad, a city of six million people.

What’s happening is really simple—and it’s happening in plain sight, in the traditional media.  But it just so happens that, as far as I can tell, no one is connecting the dots.  

When someone tells you that the "surge" is working, you must walk them through this chain of events:

On August 7, 2007, near the end of America’s bloodiest summer in Iraq, the New York Times reported the following:

Attacks on American-led forces using a lethal type of roadside bomb said to be supplied by Iran reached a new high in July, according to the American military.

The devices, known as explosively formed penetrators, were used to carry out 99 attacks last month and accounted for a third of the combat deaths suffered by the American-led forces, according to American military officials.

"July was an all-time high," Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, said in an interview, referring to strikes with such devices.

Such bombs, which fire a semi-molten copper slug that can penetrate the armor on a Humvee and are among the deadliest weapons used against American forces, are used almost exclusively by Shiite militants.

The "Shiite militants" described by the New York Times were, in fact, members of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.  And, as we all saw this past summer, Muqtada’s fighters were really doing a job on American forces—despite the troop increase which began earlier in the year.

That was on August 7th.  And remember, this was during a summer throughout which we were bombarded with news of Iranian/Shia efforts to kill Americans and destabilize the Iraqi government.  

Then, barely three weeks after the New York Times article ran, 50 Muslim pilgrims were slaughtered in sectarian fighting in Karbala.  In response, Muqtada al-Sadr announced that he had

ordered his militia to suspend offensive operations for six months.

No one saw this coming.

The surprise statement regarding his notorious Mahdi army, which is responsible for much of Iraq's sectarian blood-letting, not only caught British and American commanders off-guard but appeared to have surprised Baghdad officials too. Mowaffak al-Rubbaie, Iraq's national security adviser, said Baghdad would only welcome the move if Sadr's lieutenants stop attacks and their attempts to "blow up" the Iraqi government.

"I will see on the ground what is going to happen," he said. "It is good news if it is true. If it happens it will reduce violence in the country a great deal."

When this news was reported on August 30th, no one really believed it, much less expected the implementation of an actual cease-fire on the part of Iraq’s Shia fighters.

On September 1st, even the U.S. military admitted that this could be an important—if not the important—development in the situation on the ground in Iraq.  According to CNN,

"Muqtada al-Sadr's declaration holds the potential to reduce criminal activity and help reunite Iraqis separated by ethno-sectarian violence and fear," the U.S. military said.
::
An end to Mehdi Army "would also be an important step in helping Iraqi authorities focus greater attention on achieving the political and economic solutions necessary for progress and less on dealing with criminal activity, sectarian violence, kidnappings, assassinations, and attacks on Iraqi and coalition forces," the military said.

When that was said by the U.S. military on September 1st, the "surge" was never mentioned.  It was all about an Iraqi decision that would succeed or fail on Iraqi actions.  The U.S. military was only observing.

Lo and behold, U.S. troop deaths began plummet.  American deaths dropped from 84 in August, to 65 in September, to 38 in October—the lowest tally for a single month in over a year and a half.

Having argued for months that Iranian-supplied Shia fighters were the most serious threat to U.S. forces in Iraq, those same forces had suddenly stopped fighting.  And it showed.  

On November 2nd, the Washington Post reported that

The number of explosively formed projectiles (EFPs) that have been detonated or found in Iraq has dropped by nearly half in recent months, from a peak of 99 in July to 53 last month, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the commander in charge of day-to-day military operations in Iraq, said yesterday in a videoconference with Pentagon reporters.

But rather than recognize this for what it was, notable Republicans and other right-wingers immediately began to spin the story as if this was the result of the "surge":

McCain told students at Coastal Carolina University that the United States has had "astonishing success" in Iraq as a result of the military strategy now in place.

Notice that Senator McCain never mentions the fact that our gravest enemy in Iraq--the Mahdi Army--has quit fighting.  On November 3rd, the Los Angeles Times, reported of President Bush:

At the graduation ceremony, the president said that since the troop increase reached full strength in June, the number of roadside bombs had been cut by half. He said U.S. military deaths were at their lowest in 19 months.

Again, no mention of Muqtada al-Sadr, his Mahdi Army, or their decision to stop killing Americans.  Instead, it was all about the "troop increase."  

Even the London Times got in on the spin, stating explicitly:

This has not been an accident but the consequence of a strategy overseen by General David Petraeus in the past several months.

Unfortunately, no one seems to be calling our elected officials or the traditional media on this nonsensical idea that the "Petraeus strategy" should be credited with stanching the flow of blood.  No one seems to notice that, as with everything else in Iraq, the Iraqis are going to do what they want, when they want.  When al-Sadr lays down his arms, there will be relative peace.  When he takes them up, Americans will die in dozens.

Regardless, the fortunes of Iraq will turn on Iraqi decisions made in Baghdad and Najaf, not in Washington, D.C. and the halls of Congress.  As this situation shows, peace in Iraq lies in the hands of Iraqis.  It cannot—and will not—be forced by Americans at the point of a gun.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 05:36 AM PST.

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  •  If the surge is successful... (31+ / 0-)

    The more reason to bring troops home.

    Why wouldnt it be successful--they are bribing Sunni leaders and ethnic cleansing has done its job.

    Fully fund an 18 month withdrawal to be crafted by committee of military, foreign diplomacy experts and Sunni-Shiite reconciliation leaders, etc

    by timber on Sun Nov 04, 2007 at 11:49:41 PM PST

    •  That's my point: (50+ / 0-)

      The surge of 30,000 troops is irrelevant to overall success or failure in Iraq.  Whether it's the laying down of arms or ethnic cleansing, it's still up to the Iraqis themselves--not 19-year old Americans.

      •  It won't matter what the cause of the lower (17+ / 0-)

        death rate is.

        If it coincides with the surge and continues then Bush will get the credit for turning the war around.

        The the reason Muqtada al-Sadr pulled back his gang was supposedly because he turning the people against him. But it also could be partly because of the extra troops and not wanting to get his men getting in firer fights with our military.

        Perhaps his thinking is that if things remain quiet for enough time, we'll have to start drawing down and he again can go into action to take control.

        I for one am glad that our troops are somewhat safer and hope it continues so that there will be no excuse for keeping them there. However, don't be surprised when the public changes it's mind about the war and starts thinking more favorably about Bush.

        We as a nation have a very short attention span. Public amnesia is rampant.

        Dubya: often wrong, but never in doubt.

        by auapplemac on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 12:39:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Moreover, they'll always find a reason to stay (21+ / 0-)

          I've said this before (event in Brandon's diaries), but the US military, once it has established bases in a country, rarely gives them up.  Even in countries where they are arguably no longer needed in large #'s such as Germany and Japan.

          The reasons for staying in Japan have changed over the last 60 years in a manner that you would recognize.  Initially, Americans needed to be in Japan to 'bottle up' Japanese militarism.  Then it was to contain communism.  When the USSR fell, the new rationale was to maintain E. Asian regional stability (conveniently ignoring the fact that bases would be magnets for enemy fire).  Now it's to deter North Korea.

          America tends to stick around until our host country kicks us out, like the Philippines did in the 1990's.

          American overseas? Register to vote at www.VoteFromAbroad.org

          by YoyogiBear on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 12:49:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  al sadr has always been a target (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dante Zappala

          Go back to the Viceroy days of Bremer and an arrest warrant was issued for al Sadr and his newspaper was closed down by Allawi's regime. He has always been a nationalist and seen as a problem by the US while we make buddies with SCIRI and Dawa which have long been Tehran clients. On the other hand so was the Northwest Alliance in Afghanistan and we still embraced them.

          •  You have it right, entlord1, it's SCIRI's (0+ / 0-)

            Badr brigade who are the really bad guys -- and separatists.

            There is one thing that doesn't make sense which is al Sadr is not friendly with Iran. So why would they be funneling the EFTs to him rather than badr brigade???

            Drop in fatalities is from al Sadr calling 6 month truce, ethnic separation/cleansing in Baghdad, fewer people (more have left the region) and fewer missions -- more bombs are being dropped!

            At first the surged troops were hyperactive but when the death rate went up the bushies saw it was trouble. They found the normal summer drop very helpful in letting them spin  "the surge is working." So after Sept. they wanted to keep deaths low they went to heavier use of bombs. The dead civilians were not counted as sectarian violence so no statistics were sullied.

            sam

            Do NOT donate to the DSCC or the DCCC, think Lieberman & BlueDogs. Support DNC and progressive candidates directly!

            by samddobermann on Wed Nov 07, 2007 at 03:20:29 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Could it also have something to do with (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CalNM, TexDem, Mz Kleen, llbear, xaxado

        the reduction of British troop #'s and/or redeployment of American troops to other regions (Baghdad)?

        American overseas? Register to vote at www.VoteFromAbroad.org

        by YoyogiBear on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 12:43:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Surge is not working.... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mz Kleen, llbear, langerdang

        so bring the troops home - and let Iraqis do what they are doing themselves to get their act together.

        Your point is that we aren't helping.  But we will be sacrificed when/if al Sadr decides to fight again.

        So, under all circumstances, BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW - not a year from now, not two years from now...NOW.

        VEBO...Vote Every Bum Out

        by ShainZona on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 04:14:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The (6+ / 0-)

        The Americans are not in control of the situation in Iraq.  Iraqis are in control.  When the Iraqis decide it's time to kill Americans again, they will.

        •  It's really that simple (7+ / 0-)

          as long as Iraqis wish to resist our occupation, they will.

          There are perhaps many reasons for the decline in deaths of American troops. The diarist may be right in part that the Mahdi army's standown is part of the explanation. However, it can only be a small part because Shiites have been responsible for only a small proportion of American deaths. Most of the killing, still, is done by Sunnis.

          Other, larger things are at work that have little to do with al-Sadr. For one, it appears that American troops more and more are so disgusted with the corruption of the Iraqi army and police that they are trying to avoid contact with dangerous elements inside the country. In other words, they know the occupation is not and cannot work, and they see little point in endangering their lives while trying to achieve the impossible. So they stay clear of danger. They'll go out on patrol and keep to themselves (these are called "Search and Avoid" missions).

          Another fact is that Baghdad has been so thoroughly cleansed along ethnic/sectarian lines that there are few mixed neighborhoods left. The flashpoints are largely gone, so American troops don't have to try so hard to keep Shiites and Sunnis separate.

          These things, I suspect, along with the willingness of Sunni sheiks to work in Anbar with the US against al Qaida, are much more responsible for the decline in US casualties than any behavior of al-Sadr.

          And, incidentally, the "Anbar awakening" predates the surge.

          •  I'm sure that it's a combination of factors (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            smintheus

            I've always wanted to challenge some of theses neo-con douchebags with the question "How long would you keep fighting if our country was invaded?". Would you stay committed, or eventually aquiesce to armed troops on your street? I don't care who you are, what your ethnic background, what your cultural framework has been, no-body likes to be occupied

            •  and few people enjoy occupying (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Simplify, Independant Man

              other people's country, even in the absence of open rebellion. American troops can't be unaware that a majority of all Iraqis, in every region, believe that Iraqis are justified in attacking Americans. That has to wear you down. The normal response to that kind of hostility, over time, is to look after your own and your buddies' safety first, and forget about trying to "save" Iraq from the Iraqis.

              Orwell's Shooting an Elephant is as relevant today as then.

      •  Time to step down (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wishingwell, tcdup

        As the Iraqis are stepping up (snark). These are ancient people, ancient civilizations: they know how to wait. They know that they will be there long after we leave. Al-Sadr in no fool: If he convinces the US that the "Surge" is working, the more political pressure there will be on Bush. For God's sake, didn't these people invent chess? They are so ahead of us in where this farce is going.

      •  How come our Dem Congressmen dont know this. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brandon Friedman

        If they know this they wont be scared to vote to defund the war and just fund a
        1 1/2 year withdrawal plan that will involve diplomacy with the Madhi Army and Sunni and the Bagdad govt.

        Because, I really dont believe there will be a massacre.  I think when US leaves--Iraqis will try to get along with each other and make concessions.

        Fully fund an 18 month withdrawal to be crafted by committee of military, foreign diplomacy experts and Sunni-Shiite reconciliation leaders, etc

        by timber on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 08:58:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Another factor (0+ / 0-)

        I've read about, I think in Salon over the weekend, is that Baghdad is so barricaded into fortressed neighborhoods that nobody can move or come out of their homes, i.e. there's nobody to shoot.  They live in fear of walking out of their homes.  Also, people have left or been killed.  When you've killed off most of the population, well, I guess there's less people to kill.  But I'm glad our troops aren't being killed in such large numbers either.

        Well, I guess I don't know what you mean by "equal justice under the law." - Bushy McSpokesperson

        by gatorcog on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 10:14:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  This is important (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell

      Instead of the Dems in Congress arguing surge success/failure, they should say that now is time to bring the troops home.  I'm sure the other side will say "Oh, we're just starting to show success."  But let's think through the position -- let's say they're right that the surge is working (even if that's nonsensical) -- does that mean that to continue to have fewer deaths of Americans we need to keep all those Americans there?  I don't think many people will support the notion that we can keep American deaths to under 40 a month by keeping our troops there forever.
      And what about Iraqi deaths?  There seems to be disagreement between the Iraqi ministry and American military PR about this.  American PR is that Iraqi "civilian" deaths are down, but Iraqi reports don't agree.  Apparently it has to do with the definition of civilian.  Change the definition so that children are not always classified as civilian, for example, and the civilian deaths "go down."

      If, in our efforts to win, we become as dishonest as our opponents on the right, we don't deserve to triumph.

      by Tamar on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 06:29:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks! (15+ / 0-)

    You're right, of course. How did I forget al-Sadr?

    During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

    by kyril on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 12:00:14 AM PST

  •  Um . . . (11+ / 0-)

    the anti-Bush side of the aisle

    Is there anything on the pro-shrub side of the aisle other than the fire escape?

  •  excellent diary, thanks for connecting dots (23+ / 0-)

    sadly, bush will continue taking credit, praising his surge and most americans will never learn that it was Muqtada al-Sadr.

    it should be instinctive by now that if something good happens, it can't possibly be because of anything bushie did.

  •  How very true THIS is: (15+ / 0-)

    When al-Sadr lays down his arms, there will be relative peace.  When he takes them up, Americans will die in dozens.

    But it's also true, in a much lesser way, that I'm envious of you and
    yours buds in Austin for the festival.

    It is never too late to blog what you might have blogged....George Eliot (UPDATED)

    by begone on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 12:11:20 AM PST

  •  Dots (13+ / 0-)

    If traditional media was interested in connecting the dots they would have already done so. They will not, so it is up to people like you to do it for them. We are in such dire straits and so many are so uninformed that they don't realze it. Wake Up America!

    That we are to stand by the president, right or wrong is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. T. Roosevelt

    by noblindeye on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 12:17:12 AM PST

  •  seems right (6+ / 0-)

    though if I were writing the narrative of what is going on, I would summarize it as the big players pulling back from fighting each other- and, with obvious cooperation between them, eliminating a number of the smallest players.  'Al Qaeda in Iraq' would be one supposedly wiped out.  Al-Sadr was reining in some of the elements of the Mahdi Army that were getting out of control.  The Sunnis have been reallying and splitting up control wherever the Americans have withdrawn.

    It seems like every military lull and sense of a political change in Iraq before it, though.  Each as preceded reengagement in deadlier form and larger formations, with a general trend toward a showdown of a full Sunni alliance with a Shiite one.

    Renewal, not mere Reform.

    by killjoy on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 12:17:49 AM PST

    •  Even if this is the "corner" being "turned," (8+ / 0-)

      it's because of what the Iraqis are doing themselves.

    •  Maybe Sadr has agreed to lay down his arms (7+ / 0-)

      for six months because that's the projected timetable for the Iraqi Sunni militias to eject Al-qaeda and he doesn't want to interfere with that operation. With Al-qaeda gone the Shia and Sunni can fight each other or - more likely - unite behind the common goal of ejecting the Americans.

      The Reasons Violence is Down in Iraq.

      There are, apparently, three.  First, Muqtada al-Sadr and Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the Shiite leaders of the Mahdi Army and the Badr Brigade, respectively, have agreed to stop shooting at each other.  Second, Sunnis in Anbar Province decided last year to stop shooting at the US occupation forces and start shooting at people who, for reasons of expediency, are collectively labeled "al Qaeda in Iraq".  Third, fewer foreign fighters are pouring across the Syrian border, for reasons which leave US officals stumped.
      Link

      •  Maybe Sadr has agreed to lay down arms... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dale Read

        for six months because that's the projected time for the surge to be sustainable.

        Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." - Philip K. Dick

        by God loves goats on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 07:57:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Easy answer on Syria (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dale Read

        Syria has closed down its borders as much as it can while it cracks down on potential domestic problems. As a supporter of Shia' Hizbullah, now might be a good time to cut down on the numbers of Sunni Wahhabist jihadists transiting through the country.  Al Qaeda is no friend to the Syrian Ba'athists.
        Of especial concern are quiet negotiations around Hizbullah's transformation from a militia to a political party only coupled with the return of the Shebaa Farms to Syria and maybe some return of the Golan Heights to Syria.  Despite vigorous rightwing attempts to stir up trouble over a putative air strike against Syria a few weeks ago, both governments were very careful to control what information was released and neither side never acknowledged more than a border violation.
        Syria and Israel are working to resolve problems, if only we do not get involved and help them more.

  •  but, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Upper West, smintheus

    The majority of attacks on American forces were not being conducted by Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

    •  true (0+ / 0-)

      I don't understand the basis of this diary's argument (as I say higher up). Most of the killing is and has been done by Sunnis.

      •  third phase of the war (0+ / 0-)

        Phase 1  Destroy the iraqi army, that took about 8 weeks.

        Phase 2 Destroy the sunni insurgency and al qaeda.
                      That ended when they switched to our side against the shiite

        Phase 3 is about to start. Destroy the shiite.

                      Expect to see massive ighting in sadr city.

        George Bush i sLiving proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

        by nathguy on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 07:03:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  OK (0+ / 0-)

        I would like to see a response from Brandon on this.

        The Democratic Message: Security, Privacy, Justice

        by Upper West on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 07:20:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Go look at the numbers (0+ / 0-)

        here.  I don't have time to really break down the statistics, but the casualty rates were still very high in both September and October--signifying that many non-Mahdi Army fighters still have an interest in killing Americans.  So you're right on that note.  But the point of the diary is that these numbers have fallen off significantly.  And the diary explains why this is happening.

        •  this may be the most significant number (0+ / 0-)

          IEDs, which are mainly associated with Sunni attacks, have been the largest killer of American troops. The number of IED deaths has dropped dramatically in recent months: IED casualty index.

          That could reflect better armor; fewer patrols; fewer patrols in dangerous neighborhoods; more "search and avoid" patrols by disgruntled troops; more reliance on air power; better relations with Sunni insurgents. I don't see that it can be connected closely to anything al-Sadr is doing, however.

          •  Read the NYT article to which I linked (0+ / 0-)

            in the diary.

            •  you're referring to EFPs (0+ / 0-)

              which Shiites reportedly have used more than Sunnis. Sure, a decline in use of EFPs by Shiites can contribute something to a decline in overall casualties.

              But that would account for only a small part of the drop in casualties. Sunni IED attacks appear to have dropped as well. EFPs weren't a major presence until recently, but standard (mainly Sunni) IEDs have been an ongoing problem for years. Yet if you compare this October's IED attacks to last October's, they're down by more than 50%. It looks like IED attacks are down across the board.

  •  If the military strategy now in place in Iraq is (6+ / 0-)

    such an "astonishing success" then why are they having to draft unwilling State dept. Diplomats to send to Iraq, one should ask.

    Don't assume anything...Verify! It's as easy as 3.14159265

    by Mr SeeMore on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 12:20:49 AM PST

  •  Dot connection (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CalNM, truong son traveler, Mz Kleen

    What we really need is a truthspaper and true tv. Any sane billionaires out there interested in taking on these corporate hacks?

    That we are to stand by the president, right or wrong is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. T. Roosevelt

    by noblindeye on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 12:23:57 AM PST

  •  Bush with his surge is like (13+ / 0-)

    the strutting rooster, so proud that its crowing caused the sun to rise.

  •  I reckon you are about... (4+ / 0-)

    101% right in your logic and reasoning!

    Cheers:)

    Life is not a 'dress rehearsal'!

    by wgard on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 12:31:26 AM PST

  •  Bush & his surge is llike the strutting rooster, (7+ / 0-)

    so proud that his crowing caused the sun to rise.

  •  And what happens when 6 mos. are up? (10+ / 0-)

    Thanks Brandon. I had been wondering about those stories, but I couldn't pull it all together like you did.

  •  part of t equation (9+ / 0-)

    The diarist is implying that all of the drop is due to the Mahdi Army cease fire. I'm not so sure that I would agree with that.

    There are by many accounts, air strikes in lieu of ground forces, forced segregation of Sunni and Shia in Baghdad (via concrete barriers), and Sunni agreements with American forces to pursue Al Quaeda of Iraq and other various outside influences.

    I would argue that this is more a sign of a bit of Balkinization going on. Sunni and Shia are concurrently finding it strategic to focus on consolidating political power in majority areas.

    While the reduction in U.S. casualties is a good thing, I would say that it is more a sign of U.S. irrelevance. I suspect that the parties are setting themselves up for a post U.S. presence.

    •  Good point -- why not both? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmay, Mz Kleen, Tamar

      I think the diarist's point about the cease-fire is spot on. I also think you are correct, especially going forward.

      Perhaps -- the one led to the other. The cease-fire by the Mahdi Army came about because, I think, a number of people in Iraq saw the pilgrims' murder as a wake-up call, the "okay, this has to stop" moment.

      So, Mahdi Army declares a unilateral cease-fire, AND everyone turns from ethnic cleansing to consolidation and self-defense. Perhaps the cleansing has "worked", so to speak -- everyone is either in a safe haven or a refugee.

      Not a well-written comment, but you get the idea.

      Bruce in Louisville
      And the blog is Eclectic Thinker

      by bmaples on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 04:27:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If you want (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler, Mz Kleen

    to see an Irish Report on the situation in Iraq
    click here
    and "Prime time" End game Iraq. it's about 20 min long and worth watching.

    Blame God and you'll get away with anything.

    by langerdang on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 12:40:50 AM PST

  •  Excellent diary, Brandon (6+ / 0-)

    I really appreciate the way you've laid it all out and explained it. I hate to think of our soldiers still there when al-Sadr decides to fight again, which seems to be his intention, doesn't it?

    So, when are you coming to Massachusetts? Lots of Kossacks here who would love to meet you!

    Where are we going? And why are we in this handbasket?

    by Ekaterin on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 01:06:40 AM PST

  •  Does the decline (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CalNM, Mz Kleen, ratador

    in violence mean we can leave?  Democrats should support a bill simply stated the violence is down we can leave.

    "Sometimes I wish I could change my nickname" Me

    by givemhellHarryR on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 01:21:30 AM PST

  •  been wonderin' (9+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the breakdown, Brandon. I had forgotten about Al-Sadr calling off his militia for six months. So that's a really big part of it. I thought they might also be keeping the troops on base, less chance of casualties.

    •  That probably figures into to it (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OLinda, CalNM, TexDem, Mz Kleen, llbear

      to some degree, too.

      •  12 step peace process (0+ / 0-)

        The warring Sunni and Shia factions also embarked on their own peace process, independent of the US. Another hugely related factor seldom covered by Bush admin, the Dems, or news media.

        oxon had a terrific diary on it a couple of months back, w/ coverage in the guardianUK.

        The Coming Bloodbath™ or not.
        diary by oxon describes the:

        The 12-point plan

        1 Resolve political issues through non-violence and democracy.
        2 Prohibit use of arms while in talks.
        3 Form independent commission to disarm groups in verifiable manner.
        4 Accept results of negotiations.
        5 End international interference.
        6 Commit to protect human rights.
        7 Assure independence and effectiveness of the law and courts, especially constitutional court.
        8 Full participation of all parties in political process and governance.
        9 Take all steps to end violence, killings, forced displacement and damage to infrastructure.
        10 Establish an independent body to explore how to deal with the past in a way which will unite the nation.
        11 Support efforts to make political process successful and to protect Iraq's unity and sovereignty.
        12 Participating groups commit to principles as complete set of rules.

  •  Reword the first sentence (9+ / 0-)

    "As U.S. casualties have continued to drop, many people on the anti-Bush side of the aisle have begun to quietly panic"

    Please, please, change the first sentence. I'm sure that wasn't your intention but this feeds straight into the nuttiest of wingnut narratives about Democrats wanting more US casualties in Iraq. Maybe you could change "begun to quietly panic" into "have become increasingly surprised" or "have begun to question their assumptions" or something like that.

    •  Who are these people... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      smintheus, joynow, Kevvboy

      ...quietly panicking at a reduction in casualties? I don't think they exist.

      •  Well "some people" in the media would say... (0+ / 0-)

        Just saying...

        (not that we need to help them to write their narratives, though...)

      •  Rahm Emmanuel (0+ / 0-)

        The DLC want to use the War as a tool next year. To the extent casualties are down, it lessens their ability to do so as effectively as they would like.  
        That they haven't already laid the groundwork to bring our guys home before Jan 09 isn't helpful. If they had done even a minimum amount preparation in getting the public ready or writing legislation requiring reductions based upon criteria that would correspond with Administration claims, we would already be seeing signs of a greater reduction in troop numbers.

        •  This is ridiculous... (0+ / 0-)

          ...nothing but the Republican slander. No Democrat, DLC or otherwise, is setting strategy dependent on continuing casualties. Gonna look into how to report a troll.

          •  You obviously missed Rahm on Bill Mahrer (0+ / 0-)

            Bill accused him exactly of this and Emmanuel could not or would not give a flat denial. He obfuscated his answer.

            And as long as the Dems fund the war and try to run as the anti-war party they will continue to be suspect. If they are against the war do something NOW.
             
            BTW, you'll have a hard time getting anyone to accept me as a troll. Cynical? Yes. A troll? You might come closer to being called one than I.
             
            Also, the GOPpers can't call the Dems on shit about this war. They own it. And if the Dems continue to fund it they may carry that perception too.

    •  How about this. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      haukurth

      As U.S. casualties have continued to drop, many people on the anti-Bush side of the aisle have begun to quietly panic in recent days over this question: "Could George W. Bush and Frederick Kagan have possibly been right about the surge?"

      U.S. casualties have continued to drop and many people on the anti-Bush side of the aisle, although thrilled with the news that fewer of our soldiers are being killed, have begun to quietly panic in recent days over this question: "Could George W. Bush and Frederick Kagan have possibly been right about the surge, and could this give the administration a perceived permission to continue with their disasterous foreign policy?"

  •  It Stays The Norm (4+ / 0-)

    Older and Younger Veterans recognize the twist and turns of a Combat Theater, always more clearly than any civilian leadership and even most military leadership, and certainly Societies!

    To you Brandon, and All of your Comrades In Arms, that this country has once again added to our ranks, Combat Theater Veterans, there is one thing you'll get used to, though Frustrating, You Will Not Be Heard By The Majority, Ignored and Pushed Aside, and if Decorated you will be 'Swiftboated'!

    But you will still continue to Fight for Country and Constitution, it's now ingrained in the soul!!

    If they were sent to fight, they are too few. If they were sent to die, they are too many!

    by jimstaro on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 01:55:13 AM PST

  •  Why did al-Sadr order the Mahdi Army to stop? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mz Kleen

    Great diary, btw.

    Hobby: project. Interests: Politics and the English Language.

    by Patel1946 on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 02:51:13 AM PST

  •  I know it is clear to everyone but me, but I (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mz Kleen, ratador, Patel1946

    don't understand.  Why did Muqtada al-Sadr quit fighting?

    Thank you.

    If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

    by hestal on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 02:53:36 AM PST

    •  I have the same question. (5+ / 0-)

      Iraq's Al-Sadr says freeze of militia's military activity remains in force

      The Associated Press
      Wednesday, October 24, 2007

      BAGHDAD: Anti-American Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr has urged members of his Mahdi Army to respect his order for a six-month freeze of military activity, threatening offenders in the feared militia with expulsion.

      A statement by al-Sadr's office in the holy city of Najaf south of Baghdad said the cleric's call on the militiamen to respect the freeze, announced in August, was issued in response to questions from followers about whether the order to stand down still applied.

      It was not clear why al-Sadr's office issued the statement now, but U.S. forces appear to have escalated of their campaign against what the military calls rogue, Iranian-backed Mahdi Army militiamen.

      Clashes between suspected Mahdi Army militiamen and rival Shiite groups are on the rise in parts of the mainly Shiite south of Iraq.

      Al-Sadr said the freeze remained in force and may be renewed if such a move was found to be beneficial. "Enemy parties are spreading this news (that the freeze ended) to tarnish the image of this heroic ideological army that has shown loyalty to its leadership by implementing the freeze." He, however, said some did observe the freeze.

      "So, we appeal to everyone to obey the order in every respect or risk being expelled from this ... army in which there is no place for renegades."

      Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army fought U.S. troops for much of 2004 across a string of towns and cities in central and southern Iraq. After a cease-fire, al-Sadr joined the political process and his loyalists now have 30 of parliament's 275 seats.

      His control over the Mahdi Army has been questioned in recent months and the U.S. military speaks of splinter groups that have forged close ties with neighboring Iran, operating as rogue cells and attacking U.S. forces. Others, the military says, are running black market rackets and kidnapping and extortion gangs.

      Al-Sadr's surprise announcement of the freeze in August was perceived as an attempt at damage control after deadly street battles during a major Shiite festival between his men and fighters of the rival Badr militia in the holy city of Karbala.

      Dozen of people were killed and anger mounted against the militia fighters, who are seen by many as thugs and criminals.

      Hobby: project. Interests: Politics and the English Language.

      by Patel1946 on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 03:06:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  That an increase in death rate (5+ / 0-)

    was caused by Sadr's army was commented on in the Asian times months ago under a headline: US Surges, Soldier's Die, Blame Iran.

    That article said flat out Sadr's army was the main culprit and not Iran as the administration was chanting while the press beat the drum.

    Now that Sadr has backed off, the chant is we're number one, we're number one. However, perhaps it puts a damper on the attack Iran chant. Probably not.

  •  Of course, all this goes to shit once (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mz Kleen

    the Kurd/Turkey fighting erupts into something larger.

    "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities." -- Winston Churchill

    by Spud1 on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 03:17:39 AM PST

  •  Nobody really knows why Al-Sadr stopped fighting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mz Kleen, Brandon Friedman

    I gather....

    Others have asked the same, but i wanted to post it up again because its vitally important. It may even shed some light on when theyll restart their operations.

  •  Isn't this also true: those that claim the surge (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lulu57, Mz Kleen, WI Dem

    is working imply or state that the reduction in violence is a permanent thing, that once eradicated the insurgents are gone.

    But I don't see it that way. If indeed the additional troops are reducing the violence, then these levels have to remain in order to maintain that suppression. Or, that once the 30,000 troops are sent home, the violence will increase.

    And we just don't have that many troops to maintain this level for years to come.

    "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities." -- Winston Churchill

    by Spud1 on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 03:28:25 AM PST

  •  To understand the Mahdi army, you have to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smintheus, potownman, SteveS Austin

    pay attention to the Saudi backed Sunnis. The real war in Iraq is between the Sunni insurgents and the Mahdi army which is aligned with Maliki. Americans get attacked when they interfere. Now that the administration has abandoned almost all the US offensive tactics and is conjoling the Sauds and Sunnis the overall intensity has diminished. In effect we are proving that leaving Iraq would diminish the violence. The current non-interference strategy demonstrates the effect quite well.

    "I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self." --Aristotle

    by java4every1 on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 03:40:05 AM PST

    •  But in Basra, the reports, as the Brits retreat (0+ / 0-)

      state that the Mahdi Army and SCIRI are engaged in a battle for control.  SCIRI controls the militia and police force in the area and it is traditionally not Mahdi Army stomping grounds, it seems the Shia'a realize that once they deal with the other problems, they still disagree with each other, SCIRI and Dawa being Tehran clients and al Sadr being vehemently nationalistic, I guess is how you would summarize things.  However, al Sadr has also disagreed with Sistani as well in the past, so it appears that his point of view is unique to him and his followers, to say the least.

      •  al Sadr presents a huge problem for Bush/Cheney (0+ / 0-)

        due to Saudi fears of a strong Shiite state on their border. No doubt SCIRI is getting some help and prodding.

        "I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self." --Aristotle

        by java4every1 on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 04:08:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  But, for those who only have bumperstick levels (6+ / 0-)

    of concentration, the fact remains that casualties are down.  Happened after surge, ergo, surge = less casualties.  All the indepth analysis on blogs read by about .001 percent of the electorate won't make common perception otherwise.

    Best spin might be the:  "War over, Americans not dying anymore, bring em home"

    Peace Prosperity Honesty Competency Integrity How about those bumpersticker answers? - Hillary 2008 .

    by redlief on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 03:43:40 AM PST

  •  Blackwater is now under a microscope...... (0+ / 0-)
  •  It doesn't fit with (5+ / 0-)

    the script, so it can't be covered.

    Iraqis are taking control of their own future, which is (supposedly) what we wanted, but now it has to be all about "military might" and "great strategy".

    No one will connect the dots, because it's not the "right" story.

    Good diary and dot connecting.

    -6.5, -7.59. "We can't replace corporate Republicans with corporate Democrats", John Edwards, Oct 7, 2007

    by DrWolfy on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 04:21:13 AM PST

  •  Major Idiot logic (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SecondComing, Mz Kleen, WI Dem, Argyrios

    from the public...

    Post Hoc ergo Propter Hoc

    It's all their tiny little minds can manage.

    My seven year old is smarter than 50% of the US population.

    -6.5, -7.59. "We can't replace corporate Republicans with corporate Democrats", John Edwards, Oct 7, 2007

    by DrWolfy on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 04:32:45 AM PST

  •  Great diary Brandon....... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brandon Friedman

    I was wondering what was behind the downturn in violence there.  I too forgot about the Mahdi Army taking a break.  

    If the people lead, the leaders will follow.

    by Mz Kleen on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 04:50:30 AM PST

  •  I've noticed the lying ... thanks for the real (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rickeagle

    story.

    I didn't know what it was - I do have a job! - BUT

    I didn't think those bastards had really accomplished anything good for anyone intentionally.

    rmm.

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 04:57:03 AM PST

  •  So in 6 months... (0+ / 0-)

    Al Sadr will evidently decide whether to resume attacks on Americans again or not? I'm still unclear about the rationale behind his decision to stop them now - not that I'm complaining.

    I can't help but wonder if As Sadr's taking some kind of marching orders from Iran on this.

    Anyway, assuming he doesn't change his mind, this will mean the Republic's bleating endlessly about Dubya being a strategic genius - with lots of "I told you so's" going around.

    And you just know that the MSM will play right along. Sigh...

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 05:04:59 AM PST

  •  What do you think of this? (6+ / 0-)

    It seems some of our soldiers are taking matters into their own hands.  When this started happening in Vietnam, it was the beginning of the end.

    Dhar Jamail's artiicle in the Asia Times

    A few selections for your consideration:

    WATERTOWN, New York - Iraq war veterans now stationed at a base here in upstate New York saythat morale among US soldiers in the country is so poor, many are simply parking their Humvees and pretending to be on patrol, a practice dubbed "search and avoid" missions.

    "We'd go to the end of our patrol route and set up on top of a bridge and use it as an over-watch position," Eli Wright, also an active duty soldier with the 10th Mountain Division, told IPS. "We would just sit with our binoculars and observe rather than sweep. We'd call in radio checks every hour and say we were doing sweeps."

    Wright added, "It was a common tactic, a lot of people did that. We'd just hang out, listen to music, smoke cigarettes, and pretend." The 26-year-old medic complained that his unit did not have any armored Humvees during his time in Iraq, where he was stationed in Ramadi, capital of the volatile al-Anbar province.

    Millard told IPS "search and avoid" missions continue today across Iraq. "One of my buddies is in Baghdad right now and we email all the time," he explained, "He just told me that nearly each day they pull into a parking lot, drink soda and shoot at the cans. They pay Iraqi kids to bring them things and spread the word that they are not doing anything and to please just leave them alone."

    (Sorry, I am not savvy enough to get the nifty gray box)

  •  Not sure about the logic on either side (4+ / 0-)

    The Mehdi army didn't claim, nor did our military, that the surge was the reason that they stood down.  At the same time we don't know the number of casualties taken by the Mehdi army, which were possibly increased due to the surge.  It is POSSIBLE that the level of casualties for the Mehdi army got to be too high and they decided to stand down until the surge ended some time next year.  The killings of the pilgrims would have been an opportune time to do that and claim that it had nothing to do with the surge.

    It would be standard insurgent MO to fade away during a troop buildup and then reconstitute later.  I realize that we didn't add that many troops, but we did increase the numbers of combat troops by something like 20% which is not insignificant (although it doesn't sound like much when you compare it to the population of a large city).

    Just sayin' we don't, based on this information, know the precise reason that the Mehdi army stood down.

    •  Sadr wating out the surge (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nio, WI Dem, Temmoku

        I think it's pretty obvious that Sadr is waiting out the surge and that he had some hanger-on criminal outfits that didn't respond to his orders that actually have been hit by the surge.
        I don't disagree with Brandon's central premise that the drop in casualty rates is due mostly to actions of Iraqi actors acting for reasons that won't extend indefinitely into the future (such as past the surge), but I think it's naive to think that Sadr just happened to pick this timing to decide that one medium-size attack was the time to call a cease-fire.

    •  Call me cynical, but Bush doubeled-down (0+ / 0-)

      on the surge. Why wouldn't he hedge his bets by encouraging this action by the Mehdi's army?  War, is, at the heart, armed robbery. Everyone has a price. Even Sadr.

    •  Mehdi army told to stand down (0+ / 0-)

      because of the high number of Iraqi casualties in Karbala, and Sadr was unhappy about that - along with other religious leaders.  He felt they were getting out of control, which I think is accurate.  A lot of his "troops" are free-lancing at this point.

      By the way, he told them to stand down for up to six months.  Could end any day.

      Kos: Bush won't cancel the next round of elections to remain in power. Me: I am not so sure.

      by dancewater on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 12:11:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Big surprise (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WI Dem

    considering how this administration counts 'casualties'. You just knew, instinctively, that the surge wasn't working, and BushCO/MSM was full of shit.

    Thanks for the confirmation!

    "There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

    by o the umanity on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 05:26:15 AM PST

  •  Lying dumbass. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, nio, Ice Blue, WI Dem, Kwaidan

    No, not you, Brandon.

    Maj. General Rick Lynch (in Baghdad) who, at the end of July, declared:

    "70 percent of the fighting we do on a daily basis is al Qaeda or al Qaeda inspired" (answer to question starting at 39:45 mark in video).  Of course, he's not in an majority Sunni area and the Mahdi Army is not "al Qaeda" or "al Qaeda-inspired".

     Lynch Spouted Bush Bleating Points:  

    A.  "I'm afraid that Americans have a short-term memories and forget what happened on 9.11"

    B.  (I stopped counting at) Four times -- "Fight 'em over here (in Iraq) so we don't have to fight them back home."

    C.  Those terrorists are trying to "take away our freedoms".

    Listen -- if you can stand this Bush Mini Me -- for the whole 44 minutes.

    Go to July 27 (or there abouts) in the C-SPAN archives for the vid (it was on Washington Journal).    C-SPAN's archive search engine is awful and user-unfriendly, by the way.  But this vid's there.

    BenGoshi
    __________________________________________________

    The distinction that goes with mere office runs far ahead of the distinction that goes with actual achievement. H.L. Mencken

    by BenGoshi on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 05:34:02 AM PST

  •  The troops are patrolling fewer neighborhoods (5+ / 0-)

    US air strikes on Iraq are up by a factor of four in 2007 over 2006, according to Newsday. The US launched 1,140 bombing missions in 2007 through the end of September, as opposed to 229 in all of 2006. The US has flown as many as 70 such air missions a day this October, more than at any time since the November, 2004, assault on the Sunni Arab city of Fallujah.

    Our troops are doing less hand-to-hand combat and conducting fewer patrols. Their contribution to the war has been largely replaced by our Air Force. This was necessary in order to reduce combat deaths during the 2008 presidential campaign. The congressional GOP demanded this veiled surrender from Bush, imho.

  •  I hope this doesn't mean... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    njr, WI Dem, Temmoku

    ..that in the February-March timeframe that our troops will have gotten complacent and be taken by surprise by the return of the al-Sadr militias, and that they will die in numbers heretofore unseen...

    ..but I fear it will.

    And how will they spin that?

    Shameful that our troops have to be used in this game of checkers, thinking that the jumps are all done when all we're doing is waiting for the other side to start kinging their pieces...

    No Timeline. No Funding. No Excuses. Edwards '08!

    by Stymnus on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 05:39:24 AM PST

  •  Invested in defeat are we. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vanceone

    Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them - T Paine

    by breezeview on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 05:42:41 AM PST

  •  Well additionaly... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smintheus, moose67

    we need to remember that the sectarian cleansing is nearly complete in Baghdad and other places, there's already been a million and a half Iraqi's killed and nearly another 4 million or so displaced, both of which account for a very large portion of the Sunni population.

    Estimates are that Baghdad alone is not nearly 74% Shia from around 45% before...

    Add to that the number of youthful men in prision and it's easy to see why things appear to be getting better when they are actually much worse for the long term American goal in Iraq...

    What we do for ourselves dies with us, what we do for others and the world remains and is immortal. (Albert Pine)

    by laughingriver on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 05:44:32 AM PST

  •  You know. . . (4+ / 0-)

    If 1000 people live in a neighborhood and they're all killed in July, then the July death rate is 1000 per month for that neighborhood.

    It's 0 per month in August, because there's no one left to kill.

    Look, we've reduced the violence! All hail The Glorious Surge!

    This is sort of like saying that half the class is below average.

    They've done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it works every time. -- Brian Fantana

    by IndyScott on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 05:45:03 AM PST

  •  I have a military question (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ice Blue, Brandon Friedman

    I'm a closed captioner and I caption a lot of CSPAN. Every couple of weeks I'll get a General or Major General or some other brass-type guy who will give a press conference from Iraq via satellite.  They almost always begin and end with written statements.  Do they write these statements themselves or are they written for them?

    Also, on a somewhat pathetic note-- I've noticed, over time, the number of reporters in the room is dwindling.  The one I covered last week, there were maybe 10 reporters there tops.  I'm wondering if its because many media outlets see these things for the dog 'n' pony shows they are or if it's an exclusive group that gets the invites.

    Brandon or anyone have any ideas?

    ...so if you're ever watching CSPAN's closed captioning, that might be me.

    Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. -H.L. Mencken

    by Kwaidan on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 05:47:18 AM PST

    •  I think a lot depends on the speaker (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kwaidan

      A press conference with the commander of a hot AO will draw more than one where things are going well.  Also the higher up the chain of command, the more reporters.

      Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them - T Paine

      by breezeview on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 05:53:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  the one last week (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ice Blue

        Was General Odierno...not exactly small taters.  Which is why I was surprised there were so few reporters.  But his statements were exactly the sort of cheerleading clap-trap Brandon refers to in the diary.

        Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. -H.L. Mencken

        by Kwaidan on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 05:59:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  They can't exactly come on and say (0+ / 0-)

          all is lost now, can they.

          Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them - T Paine

          by breezeview on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 11:27:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Right, but (0+ / 0-)

            All the more reason there should be people there covering, fact-checking, etc.

            One of the big problems with the war in Iraq is that journalists can't really cover the war.  All they have is the word of people like Odierno and the brass who run press interference, so independent confirmation of how all this is turning out is practically non-existent.  But with so few even covering the press briefing...maybe it's the ex-journalism student in me, but I'm just curious as to why there aren't more reporters there asking questions.

            Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. -H.L. Mencken

            by Kwaidan on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 12:18:35 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Because they know it's currently (0+ / 0-)

              a good news cycle.  They don't want to report that, because they fear being used as tools.  I think they should all run Andrew Ware (CNN) reports.  He's demonstrated he can poo poo any good news they put out.  They could title it "Frontline News fron the Green Zone".

              Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them - T Paine

              by breezeview on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 01:58:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  I've been reading accounts of our Soldiers parkin (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MA Liberal, xanthe, OpherGopher, Ice Blue

    either in big open fields or in the middle of a bridge and instead of doing their patrols they are just radioing in false accounts of a patrol. It seems they hire a few kids to run errands and tell the locals they won't be doing anything but sitting there all day and to leave them alone. If the troops are not driving around they greatly reduce the chances of driving over a IED or being fired on. I just started reading these reports 2 weeks ago, but it makes me wonder how long this has been happening.

  •  Iraq probably is getting 'better' (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leevank, Brandon Friedman

    in the sense that a patient upgraded from critical to stable is getting 'better.' That doesn't make it any less of a tragedy.

  •  Neo-cons will use anyone or anything (0+ / 0-)

    Truth and the telling of facts is indeed a rarity for this administration. It makes me sick that they use anyone or anything as fodder for their tale of lies. They deliberately twist the facts to benefit them and the media is complicit in the story telling.

    This proves that Iraqis are the only people who can bring peace to their country, and I'm sure that's one message this administration wants to hide under a huge boulder. The surge was nothing more than yet another lie, and if it can be believed, it was simply a way to get troops lined up to attack Iran. These arses have no shame, no conscious and no guilt.

    "If I can dream of a better land, where all my brothers walk hand in hand, tell me why can't my dream come true". - Elvis Presley

    by WI Dem on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 05:53:22 AM PST

  •  Not one word about Ramadan? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ivorybill

    the author is clutching at straws with his "the surge isn't working" hypothesis. If few American are dying, the war can drag on eternally, from the public's point of view.

    The back slapping in the comment section is the "clap louder" of the Left.

    •  Taxpayers won't allow $12 billion per month (0+ / 0-)

      Ultimately, it's the MONEY we're spending on this fiasco, not the number of deaths, which will force America out of Iraq.

    •  Ramadan is a major issue (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      One Opinion

      Ramadan may account for the difference alone.  

      The other problem with this diary is that the majority of US deaths are from Sunni insurgents, not Sadr's militia.  There's never been solid proof that the Jaysh al-Mahdi actually uses these shaped charges - and I suspect that it is very possible that this narrative of Iranian support is more of a Bush Administration fabrication as part of their propaganda initiative on Iran than an actual reality on the ground. The Jaysh al-Mahdi probably does receive some support from Iran - but even before the cease-fire, they were not a major source of US casualties except for during a couple months when the US and Sadr fought in Najaf, and when the US invaded Sadr City in Baghdad.  

      I agree with the overall point though - that the surge is neither sustainable nor working.  

      In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. ...Thomas Jefferson

      by ivorybill on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 07:31:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Doesn't fit the game plan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HL Mungo

    Remember, the Mahdi army is the one that's NOT taking arms from Iran, so the evidence that their "truce" ended much of the violence goes counter to the story they want to tell.

  •  asf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ichi brown

    Also, you have to compare the "dramatic decline" in American deaths to the whole occupation not just this year.  There were 38 US deaths in Iraq in October.  So?  There were 31 US deaths in March 2006.  There were 35 deaths in March 2005.  There were 20 deaths in February 2004.  My point being that there were many months that we had less than 50 deaths but that didn't mean we were "winning".  There is no winning.  This is about oil and it doesn't matter if there are 140 military  deaths or "just" 38.  We are going to remain in Iraq for reasons other than "winning".

    * 3849 * http://icasualties.org/oif/

    by BDA in VA on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 05:55:10 AM PST

  •  Linking violence statistics to US military action (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Red Bean, Brandon Friedman, Kwaidan

    was always a red herring.

    Less violence? The surge is working! Let's keep it up! More surge!
    More violence? We need more troops! More surge!

    •  oh, really? (0+ / 0-)

      And here I just thought it was just retarded.  I'm glad there's a better name for it.  

      Then again, it does explain the fishy smell...

      Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. -H.L. Mencken

      by Kwaidan on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 06:01:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Surge Worked! Bring 'em Home! (2+ / 0-)

    I declare I was wrong the whole time, if that'll make my right-wing brothers feel better.  I don't care about being right or wrong, I just want the soldiers out of Iraq.

    So now that the surge has worked, we can declare victory and bring our soldiers home!

    Get Ozzy on the phone, we need a theme song for this!

    Times have changed and times are strange
    Here I come, but I aint the same
    Mama, Im coming home
    Times gone by seem to be
    You could have been a better friend to me
    Mama, Im coming home

  •  Why is the Mahdi Army on a 6 mos hold? (0+ / 0-)
  •  Let Triumphalists Crow, Then Eat Crow (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, feebog, Ice Blue

    This whole scenario is starting to sound increasingly like the situation which led up to the Tet Offensive in Vietnam.    Throughout much of 1967 the US military kept prattling about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in Vietnam and they were stressing the Viet Cong.  However, they never were able to truly defang the Viet Cong and the threat of increased violence always remained.  The Tet Offensive helped to show just how bankrupt the existing policy had been, even if it did result in terrible casualties amongst the Viet Cong.  It showed that they could not be defeated by conventional means.

    Does anyone think that the truce Sadr has voluntarily called will end any differently?  When the necessary political actions have not occurred and the Mehdi Army again takes the field and US casualties spike, what will the neocon triumphalists then spin about the surge?  It was working before it didn't work anymore?  I'm sure they' find the crow tough and tasty on their plates.

    "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

    by PrahaPartizan on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 06:11:44 AM PST

  •  Excellent Diary, thank you! n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mon
  •  The timing of the decision for cease-fire (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brandon Friedman

    I think the Jaysh Mehdi went quiet as an exercise in self-preservation with regards to the Americans and to score political points with the home (Iraqi) crowd.

    It was a smart move and, as you say, one that can be reversed on a dime.

    I'd attribute no more quality to the cease-fire call than rational self-interest.

    (Wish we got some DC decisionmakers who had that much going for them.)

    When you turn on your own country's children, it's not your country anymore.

    by cskendrick on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 06:16:31 AM PST

  •  Sorry, this diary was too complicated. (14+ / 0-)

    And it required sequential deduction through various points of logic. I don't get it. Can you reduce it to fewer than 12 words?

    Sincerely,
    Fox News Viewer

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 06:17:52 AM PST

  •  And then there's the Helsinki Agreement (4+ / 0-)

    I wrote a piece on the Helsinki Agreement for Dallas Area Christian Progressive Alliance:

    In the media, there’s a saying, "If it bleeds, it leads."  War, death, murder—those are top stories.  How many times has peace been the top story?  A group of people sitting around a table reconciling differences doesn’t suit the fast pace of today’s headline news.  How do you design flashy graphics to make negotiation exciting?

    Of course, for all the glitz, graphics and color, of today’s news, the stories themselves—in the United States, anyway—are still as black and white as a Roy Rogers Western, with good guys and bad guys clearly labeled by the color of their hats, and no pesky shades of gray making us think to deeply about the issues.

    So what happens when "bad guys" lay down their weapons and start talking about peace?  Sometimes, they mysteriously disappear from the airwaves, as did the Irish Republican Army when they declared a ceasefire in 1997 and began supporting the Good Friday Agreement.

    If you missed the news story about the ex-IRA man who helped facilitate an agreement in Helsinki among members of Iraq’s Shia and Sunni factions, you’re forgiven for not keeping up—it was not a top story over here.  In fact, it didn’t make news at all.  Unless your primary source of news is BBC or CNN International, you probably haven’t heard anything about the Helsinki Agreement...

    At the end of the article, there are some links from the international press about the Helsinki Agreement.  I haven't read anything about it lately, but I presume the negotiations are still ongoing.

    In TX-32, track the voting record of Pete Sessions at SessionsWatch.

    by CoolOnion on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 06:22:31 AM PST

  •  Superb post and what follows (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brandon Friedman, mon

    for me is an observation about the U.S. response. Instead of some recognition of al Sadr's assertions regarding the presence of occupational forces, as an opportunity to begin talking about withdrawal, or perhaps even seeing this as an opening for discussions with Iran, the administration escalates the language versus Iran and celebrates the calm as a triumph of increased U.S. bellicosity.

    They have to escalate the language about Iran because otherwise there less and less any reason for being there (other than the real reason -- military domination of the Middle East through occupation and privileged access to oil).

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 06:27:02 AM PST

  •  what's really going on here? (4+ / 0-)

    It seems very likely that the U.S. negotiated the "stand down" with al Sadr...

    From a Jan. 27, 2007 article:

    BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered his militia not to confront U.S. forces and has endorsed negotiations aimed at easing the deployment of American troops in his strongholds, according to Sadrist and other Shiite officials.
    Ahead of a planned surge of 21,500 U.S. troops intended to secure Baghdad, the cleric has instructed his al-Mahdi Army, recently described by the Pentagon as the biggest single threat to a stable Iraq, to keep a low profile and stay off the streets, Sadr officials say.

    A deal with the supporters of the fiercely anti-American cleric would temper U.S. military commanders' concern that any attempt to secure Baghdad will inevitably lead to a showdown with Iraq's biggest private army. In 2004, the U.S. military fought bloody battles with the al-Mahdi Army in Najaf and in Sadr City, a sprawling Shiite enclave in Baghdad, and has since steered clear of direct confrontations with the militia.

    http://findarticles.com/...

    OK, so there we have it that the Pentagon calls al Sadr’s militia, which is is largest private army in Iraq, "the biggest threat" to stability, and that U.S. forces having been avoiding confrontations with al Sadr’s militia since 2004.  Now add the fact that “Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is allied with the Sadrist movement.”

    Going from there, the article indicates that the U.S. was negotiating with al Sadr’s militia on the sly prior to the escalation surge. It says that Al-Daraji reported meeting with coalition military and U.S. Embassy officials three times since President Bush's revised strategy for Iraq was announced, and that the U.S. Embassy would not confirm or deny that the meetings had taken place.

    Right, because neither we, nor al Sadr, want to openly admit that we are cutting a  deal—it looks bad to the Sunnis. The article says that Jamal al-Shammari, a senior Sadr official in Baghdad, said that the Sadrist movement would not engage in “direct negotiations” with America... but that "indirect negotiations" had been approved.

    So why wouldn't it make sense to cut a deal with al Sadr to render his militia inactive, so that U.S. forces could concentrate on al Quaeda in Iraq, and other Sunni militias? And there is evidence that al Sadr isn't using the time to solidify his hold over the Shiite militias, and maybe doing a few operations against the Sunni militias as well.

    It would make sense. For example, the article notes that the Sunnis were concerned that any settlement with the Shiite militia would leave them “as the chief targets of stepped-up security operations, thereby deepening the vast sectarian divide,” and states that the “Shiite militia is suspected of being behind most of the death-squad killings that have driven Sunnis out of many Baghdad neighborhoods, helping fuel Sunni support for the insurgency.”

    So if the U.S. gets a truce with al Sadr, U.S. forces can concentrate on Sunni militias (and al Quaeda in Iraq (!)). That’s good for al Sadr, eh? And just recently, certain administration hacks have been crowing about our success against al Qaeda in Iraq.

    And then there’s this little bargaining chip that we have to use against al Sadr (aka hostages):

    The Sadrist movement is also demanding the release of imprisoned loyalists, and that has proved to be one of the most contentious issues in the talks, al-Daraji said. U.S. and Iraqi forces have detained hundreds of Sadr loyalists in recent weeks, including a top Sadr aide in Baghdad, Abdul Hadi al-Daraji, who is not related to the Sadrist mayor.

    http://findarticles.com/...

    The people who brought you the War on Terror are the same ones who brought you the War on Drugs.

    by Terminus on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 06:38:45 AM PST

  •  Screw the surge. Start the purge. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ichi brown

    I can only hope that we can get an administration that isn't in cahoots with industrial war machine. Doesn't look like I'll get my wish. But I ain't giving up yet.

    You can't kill your way to security, and you can't lead through scaring people. - Bruce Springsteen

    by kitebro on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 06:52:04 AM PST

  •  Generally agree with your story except ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Floja Roja, Yoshi En Son

    for the first sentence:

    As U.S. casualties have continued to drop, many people on the anti-Bush side of the aisle have begun to quietly panic in recent days over this question: "Could George W. Bush and Frederick Kagan have possibly been right about the surge?"

    I would hate to think that ANYBODY would actually panic about ANY reason for reduced casualies in Iraq, because that would suggest that the major reason we're concerned about Americans being killed and maimed is to prove that we were right and the Bush administration was wrong.

    I tend to agree that this has more to do with political decisions made by Iraqis than with ones made by Americans, and in addition to the political decision that you mention by Moqtada al-Sadr, there was the decision by tribal leaders in al-Anbar Province to begin to fight against al-Qaeda in Iraq, rather than continuing to protect them.  And while I don't think it's possible to say definitively that the surge had nothing to do with al-Sadr's decision, it rather clearly had nothing to do with the decision of the leaders in al-Anbar, since that's not even where the surge was taking place.

    It's classic guerilla warfare doctrine that insurgent forces can only be effective to the extent that they have the support of the population, and the murderous bloodthirstiness of both al-Qaeda in Iraq and the worst elements of the Mahdi Army were alienating even most members of their own communities.

    "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security." -Ben Franklin

    by leevank on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 06:55:46 AM PST

  •  The key questions: (0+ / 0-)
    1.  Why did they quit?
    1.  When we go, will they resume?

    I suspect that the answers are simple:

    1.  Because it is in their interest to quit, in order to consolidate power and in order to convince the Americans that it is safe to withdraw.
    1.  Sure they will, but by that time, someone (Al Sadr or someone else) will have consolidated power and stepped up to fill the power vacuum.

    The feces will hit the fan sooner or later.  Let's hope that when it does, the Iraqis are capable of holding off their own, Iran and Turkey, all at the same time.  

    Because everyone has one. Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

    by SpamNunn on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 06:57:25 AM PST

  •  Purple fingers on Saddam's statue surge forward (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brandon Friedman, mon

    It's been over five years.  Things go well in Iraq, they go badly in Iraq.  Remember Saddam's Statue? Mission Accomplished? Purple Fingers?  Now "The Surge" takes the place of these hyped up symbols of hope, buying Bush and his buddies ever more time to do--what exactly is it that they are trying to do?

    The fact of the matter is that Bush and his buddies want to turn this proud Republic of the United States into an Empire. We were founded on the principle that people should not be occupied by foreign nations. And those whom we occupy will always resist, as the occupied always resist the occupier, as we resisted the British.

    It is good that American casualties are down.  But until we abandon this crazy neo-con dream, it is only a lull in the war.

    The mission is not accomplished any more now than it was in May of 2003.

    You are exactly right, Brandon.  It is up to the Iraqis, not us, whether they will find peace as a country.  Great diary.

  •  well in afghanistan (0+ / 0-)

    well in afghanistan since the beginning, our warriors were pissed, because basically our troops weren't allowed to do what they were trained to do. Instead, for fear of casualities, mostly they sit, and sit and sit in their fortified positions and bases.

    I have family members who have done mulitple tours there and have expressed their frustration many times.  Of course our media has NEVER taken the time to actually explore and report what is going on.

    This war like the Nam war, is a failed war, because POLITICS is running the war, not sound military strategy.

    How would of WW2 turned out if the generals werent allowed to attack say Iwo Jima because of some politicians fear of bad headlines?

    Generals gathered in their masses Just like witches at black masses.. Evil minds that plot destruction Sorcerers of deaths construction..........

    by pissedpatriot on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 06:59:53 AM PST

  •  WaPo "Iran EFPs decline; reason is a mystery" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brandon Friedman

    Ron Erlich spoke about his book, Iran Agenda, which highlights the mindset that makes it ho hum to write this line with no skepticism expressed:

    "Iranian explosively formed......"

    But when their use declined, the reason for the decline was NOT because Iran is backing down or Sadr called off the attacks, it's "a mystery."  Not even, "Kagan did it," or "surge is working," or even, "Iran was never responsible in the first place, we got wrong information from Mossad...." no, it's a mystery.

    Washington Post, "Drivers," Iran:

    10:00PM Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), Friday, November 2, 2007:
    Current Drivers:
    http://www.secure-x-001.net/...

    • US expresses disappointment with its meeting with major world powers in London, as Russia and China do not express the same level of urgency as the US on curbing Iran's nuclear program
    • US says that Iranian explosively formed projectile (EFPs) attacks are declining...the reason is a mystery

    When a coward sees a man he thinks he can beat he becomes hungry for a fight. -Chinhua Achebe, Things Fall Apart.

    by BughouseWW on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 07:00:19 AM PST

  •  Interesting! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brandon Friedman, ichi brown, mon

    I had forgotten all this, but it does look significant.

    I should note that at a forum on Iraq last night attended by Jarrold Nadler, Yvette Clarke and Anthony Weiner (all Congress Critters from NYC) they noted that part of the decline in violence is that "ethnic clensing" (really religious clensing) has largely run its course on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis, thus reducing day to day tensions. In short, a great deal of the chaos that has been predicted to happen if we left Iraq has ALREADY taken place while we were there.

    BBC news has a map of Bagdhad that illustrates this very well. Pre-2006 most of Bagdhad was mixed Shi'a/Sunni. Now it is mostly segregated. That didn't happen peacefully.

  •  so what happens in late february? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    njr

    So what do we expect to happen in late-February of next year, when the six months of suspended operations by al-Sadr ends?  

    "We face a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

    by Wojo on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 07:08:18 AM PST

  •  Airstrikes airstrikes airstrikes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mon

    The other reason that American casualties are falling is that we are reverting back to the use of airstikes. Last year (this was all on the Rachhel Maddow show) the US used 500 or so airstrikes against suspected insurgent positions in Iraq. This year we are already in for more than about 950 so far.

    Airstikes are a really blunt instrument. They cause all kinds of unintended collateral damage. Patreus, who wrote the book on how to fight a modern  insurgency, knows they are only to be used as a last resort. He advises lots of house to house searches and boots on the ground. Too many innocents die in airstrikes thus riling up the locals fomenting support for the insurgents.

    A corralary question would be, what is the worst way to gain support among the Iraqi people, a. allowing Blackwater to run wild in the streets killing anyone they please, or, b. dropping bombs from planes onto structures you heard from a torture victim might contain bad guys?

    The first person to ever brew beer was probably naked.

    by bobinson on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 07:10:13 AM PST

  •  Panic's a bad word. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mon

    I sincerely WISH Bush were right.  As much as I may not like him, success in Iraq would be a dream.

    Instead, what appears to be happening is what I am panicked about... that is, the media jumps on some marginally good signs in Iraq and uses it to justify Bush's failing strategy.

  •  This is over-analysis - some perspective (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Subterranean, Strabo, mon

    2006 was considered a very bad year in the history of the US occupation.  However, if one looks at the actual US casualty statistics, 2007 has already been far more violent for US troops than all of 2006.  It isn't even close.

    In 2006, there were 7 months where US casualties were under 70.   In 2007 there have been 2 such months.  

    In 2006, there were 2 months where US casualties reached or exceeded 80.  In 2007, that number is 7 months.

    In every year of the Iraq war, there has been at least 1 month where casualties dipped under 40 and periods where the number of casualties declined over consecutive months.  In 2006, there were monthly declines of 2 months followed by a one-time spike and then a decline of 3 months, followed by a one-month spike, followed by a one-month decline, followed by another spike.

    In 2007, we have had 3 consecutive months of 83, 81, and 81 casualties followed by a spike of 3 consecutvie months of 104, 126, 101, followed by a decline to 78, a spike to 84, and now the 2 month decline that the diarist refers to of 65 and 38.  

    In other words, the casualty patterns in 2007 are not fundamentally different from past years.  The total number of casualties has been higher, however.

    In every year of the Iraq war, the various factions go through a process of intensified militancy followed by a period of power consolidation, a reassessment of tactics, followed by more militancy.  That is what we are seeing now.  There is no reason to believe that these changes are permanent or are reflective of US policy.

    This is Al-Sadr's second truce this year.  The first was following the annoucement of the surge, and that did not last long.  He is simply consolidating power among the Shiite militant ranks.  He has become more powerful over the course of 2007 and is now indispensable to achieving stability in Shiite Iraq.

    The Sunni insurgents are also busy consolidating power.  This is something they embarked on over a year ago, before the surge.  They are wiping out the militant Sunni fundamentalist element.  Once the insurgent leaders have achieved their aims, they will turn their attention towards fighting Shiites to reclaim areas of greater Baghdad and on pushing US troops out of Iraq, because the ultimately view the US presence as supporting Shiite interests.  

    We also now have the growing problem of militancy in the northern cities of Kirkuk, Mosul and along the Turkish border.  I would say the only good news coming out of Iraq this year is the withdrawal of the UK presence in Basra.  Basra will be fought over by various Shiite factions but reports indicate that the level of violence in Basra had dipped somewhat since the British started reducing their presence (...no foreign troops mean a consolidation of power and the absence of a nationalist incentive to fight).

    In US occupied Iraq, the situation has become worse.  Ethnic cleansing, inter and intra sectarian violence, and a lack of law and order have spread to all parts of the country.  

    Alternative rock with something to say: http://www.myspace.com/globalshakedown

    by khyber900 on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 07:19:15 AM PST

  •  We risk looking foolish (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mattinjersey, curiousDem

    if we do nothing but create new explanations to explain away developments like the plunge in violence.

    All year we have - me included - forecast a huge spiral in violence as the civil war intensified and there were more American targets to shoot at.  Just a month ago, our candidate-presumptive said it required the "willing suspension of disbelief" to imagine that violence was dropping.  But the trends in violence are, for now, unmistakable, and in the opposite direction of what virtually all kossacks expected and predicted.

    Which is a good thing.  And I can't personally have it both ways.  If I faulted the administration for the spiraling casualties - which I did - and I said only fools expected dropping rates of violence - which I did - then I, at least, feel the need to be a little less cocksure for a while while things settle out.

    •  trends in violence (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rock the ground

      I largely agree with Rock The Ground.
      If the situation is improving, for whatever reason, then you got to give Bush and his team credit. It is just splitting hairs to argue whether it is the surge or the decisions of the various armies.

      Conversely, if it fails, then Bush gets the blame.

      That's the way it should work.

      One aspect I would point out is that one should wait a while to judge whether the violence really drops, or whether this is a short-term fluctation.

      •  Great (0+ / 0-)

        we've won. Lets go home.

        "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

        by johnmorris on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 08:38:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It is not splitting hairs (0+ / 0-)

        We're talking about reality here. Why the violence is dropping is important for many reasons, not the least of which is to end the fairy tale that what we do makes a difference. The Iraqis are controlling their country. The violence dropped because the largest perpetrator of it stopped perpetrating it. Giving Bush credit for something he had nothing to do with is not the way it should work.

        Further, it's extremely dangerous to suggest that we could quell violence by putting more guys with guns into the middle of a civil war. If we had any kind of state department, we could talk to the various factions about what it would take to keep this cease-fire going. Otherwise, as soon as they feel it will do them more good if they kill people, they'll start right up again.

        Remember, this whole thing started because some thugs in the White House thought violence would solve our problems (problems which they were lying about and didn't actually exist, BTW). Now that some of the parties involved are seeing that it only makes things worse, why would we want to credit an escalation that in fact, as was the point of this diary by a man who knows what he's talking about, had nothing to do with it? And why would we want to gloss over the fact that any of these wingers who say the surge is working are lying? That just sets them up to want to try the same military-only solution to other problems as they arise, further worsening our situation.

        If the Sadr army starts killing again, then they could say, well, we need a bigger surge! Even the liberals agreed it worked before!

  •  More to the Story. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Subterranean, auditor

    Events can be read any number of ways.  This is another story making the rounds.  By spring 2007, Al Quaeda had worn out its welcome in Iraq and US generals saw the opportunity to get tougher on Muqtada al-Sadr who was using Al Quaeda for cover in his effort to unify Iraq under his rule.  The NY Times piece was a plant by the US generals (which the NY Times writer never grasped).  That article, as are all articles in that vein, was a warning to Muqtada al-Sadr that it was about to be open season on him and he could either spend the rest of his life in Iran picking his nose or go along with the US for a while.  Other hints were dropped.  Muqtada al-Sadr saw the light and  brokered a deal.  He would call off his army if the US would increase the number of troops in Iraq to get rid of Al Quaeda and keep the Sunnis under control.  Once Al Quaeda is basically gone (which conveniently may not happen for a long, long time), Iraq will settle down and Muqtada al-Sadr will be able to work the political system for his advantage (big bucks from oil which is what all enterprising Muslim clerics seem to want).  He will then be able to use his wealth and his army to basically take over the country and the US will sit on the sidelines.  Muqtada al-Sadr knows that he will have to give up the Kurdish territory in the north in this process.  Will it happen?  Who knows?  For now, US politics dictates that "the surge is working" and as long as the voters believe it, Hillary, Barack, and Edwards will waffle on Iraq and Iran.

  •  So the US military had nothing to do with the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HAL 9000, Vanceone

    drop in violence. Last time I checked a 6 brigade increase of trained soldiers coming to hunt shia militia members, would have a big impact on their ability to operate.

    Muqtada's boys are hiding so they don't die. They are reverting to killing Sunni's in the dead of night which our soldiers are stopping. We busted Iran supplying EFP IED's and that supply dried up now that they are having trouble getting them to Shia Militia members.

    Brandon, are you saying that if we just left in April 2004, when 'the prevailing wind' shifted to make Iraq 'the' political issue for the 2004 election, Iraqis would just clean up their mess and stop fighting?

    Full Disclosure: I am a brainwashed killer troll  who has served in our miltary.

    Political will can grow with a lack of violence. Violence will not shrink with the growth of political will. BDS might not allow you to remember, but President Bush said it was Iraqis that would have to solve the problem.

    Hardliners who want Iraq to degenerate in to chaos will not change their minds. They will have to be killed.

    •  Even if all you say is true (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ichi brown, One Opinion

      Iraq wasn't worth it.  Even if we disregard the Iraqi civilian deaths, civilian refugees, American deaths, etc, and focus only on the monetary costs of the war, it was a monumental waste.  

      For $1 Trillion, we could have taken the lead in alternative energy and solidified our economic power.  We could be off Mideast oil so we wouldn't have to give a fuck about Iraq.  

      For another $500 billion, we could have brought Bin Laden to justice and smashed Al Qaeda.  Six years after 911, there is no excuse for Bin Laden being free to lob propaganda videos at us every few months.  

      That's $1.5 billion - the conservative estimate of the total cost of the Iraq war.  

      Now consider what Iraq has done to our international status and our national interests in the mideast, and how it has resulted in an increase in terrorism attacks worldwide, and a heightened risk of terror attacks at home, and it's an even worse deal.  That's still not counting the lives lost to war.

      "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

      by Subterranean on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 08:18:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you on the waste part. (0+ / 0-)

        The problem is we don't have the luxury of going back in time. So the reality is either The Iraqis did this on their own and six combat brigades have brought no progress or six brigades helped take areas and keep them so normailty can be restored and Iraqis are doing their part. This is a binary choice.

        You address the broader question that started to move from national security to political in April 2004. That was the time the powers that be decided to oust George Bush from office based on the Iraq war. Once that happened the political forces of division have been working on blasting this home for 3 years now. So aside from not wanting to be there, what do you do now?

  •  diminishing GI Body-count (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe it has something to do with the fact that casualties amongst the Blackwater-troops are not counted.  So, it's simple.  Keep 'Our Boys' on the base, and let the Blackwater schmucks go the fighting.

  •  Well written, simple to follow and completely (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brandon Friedman

    logical explanation. Thanks for the information. What is amazing is Al-sadr has stuck to his word and what is scary is what happens when the six months is up, back to 07/07 deaths levels I presume. Bushco & Petraus them come up with some "other" explantaion as to why it increased again even though the surge had been on six months.

    If you ain't laughin, you ain't livin..Carlos Mencia.

    by TKK on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 07:51:02 AM PST

  •  Interesting analysis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auditor

    Why did Al Sadr call the truce?  If it was because he didn't want to fight the extra American troops, then it would be reasonable to conclude the surge worked at reducing violence.   But if the truce doesn't lead to any political settlements, it will be irrelevant (except for American politics).

    As for the decline in casualties, I remain skeptical.  We have only the Bush administration's word on body counts, and we know they can easily reduce civilian casualties by adjusting the definition of "civilian."  US Military casualties may be harder to hide, but it would not surprise me to discover that they were delaying reports on some KIAs to make the surge seem effective.  

    The only certainty is that we'll be hearing the Bush "turned it around" and will go down in history as a visionary president.  My response to this claim is two points, first, Iraq isn't going to become a functioning democracy, and will likely be allied with Iran, weakening the US's position in the mideast and giving the majority of oil reserves to a hostile bloc of shia muslims.  Second, even if Iraq were stabilized under a shia government and we pulled our troops out next month, the war still wasn't worth the cost in money, US prestige, US mideast oil interests, American lives, and Iraqi lives.  Furthermore, all the resources squandered in Iraq could have been focused on bringing Bin Laden and Al Qaeda to justice, and doing something about the instability in Pakistan.  At this point, it doesn't matter if Bush can "turn it around" in Iraq or not, because we've already lost more than we could ever hope to gain.

    Another good tact to refute wingnut talking points is to simply wax reflective and say, "Yeah, Iraq is looking better.  Now all we need is a tough political leader who can knock heads together and impose order in Iraq.  A strong-man who will keep a lid on sectarian violence in Iraq and enforce a federal oil-profits sharing law.  Perhaps a dictator who will serve American interests and keep the region stable..."  In my experience that usually puts an end to any Bush worshipping.

    "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

    by Subterranean on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 07:52:43 AM PST

    •  I've tracked annualized casulaties for a while. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Subterranean

      I agree with this analysis for the most part, although I remain a little concerned about the details.  Tracking coalition deaths on an annulaized basis leads to several interesting observations, all of which support the view that the US is not controlling and can not militarily control Iraq. Beginning with the invasion, coalition deaths were increasing on an annualized basis right up to the February 2005 elections.  Suddenly, everything became quiet and annualized coalition deaths began to decline, right up until the Israeli's invaded Lebanon in the summer of 2006 and the Bush administration cheered the invasion. That particular bit of idiocy majorly angered the Iraqi's and deaths started increasing and continued increasing up until the middle of August 2007. I can blog the numbers if anyone really cares.

      But therein lies the problem. Coalition death rates dropped suddenly in the middle of August, approximately 10 days before al-Sadr declared his truce. It's very trackable and easy to see. A possible explanation is that the Mahdi army was distracted by fighting with other other Shia factions, just before al-Sadr's announcement.  

      I'm glad that Brandon F has brought this out. I was reluctant to bring it to anyone's attention because the drop in casualties prior to the al-Sadr announcement made the argument somewhat less tenable. However, I believe it is perfectly reasonable and in keeping with all the other evidence, both logical and practical, that the US is not in control. The Iraqi's are in control of their own destiny.  The US and its "partners" are just targets for Iraqi anger and recruiters for Islamist extremisim.  

    •  Bush's legacy (0+ / 0-)

      That's all that matters to this administration. The GOP needs to defend their President, and the Dems need to bring the troops home. Everyone hates Bush. The Republicans just haven't admitted it yet. Wait until after he leaves office.

  •  Afghanistan annual death toll is at a record (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brandon Friedman

    high, as it just passed 100 for the first time since  2001, and there is still a month and a half to go for 2007, and much of the country is in near or total chaos.  

    So we have ignored Afghanistan and its toll has risen, and when we then go to focus on Afghanistan again, the Iraq toll will rise.

    This is a never ending Catch-22.  Just a total mess.

    I like the silence of a church, before the service begins better than any preaching. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by Norwegian Chef on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 07:55:08 AM PST

  •  THIS (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brandon Friedman, mon

    Is the reason I read Daily Kos.  Excellent post and analysis.  And I don't agree that you have over analyized this situation.  There may be something to the arguments that Ramadan is a factor, or that this is simply a natural pause while the sectarian parties gear up for the next round of intensified violence.  But IMHO, you have hit on the major factor.

  •  CGSC Quality Analysis (8+ / 0-)

    Brandon-

    Your analysis is worthy to that done by those attending the Command and General Staff College.There are a couple other points for you to consider and maybe some eager reporter will start requesting the data from DOD.

    1.) It is assumed that the reduction in "violence" is the result of the "surge." If that statement is true, then a "retreat" would cause an increase in violence. In Iraq we have both a "surge" and a "retreat." The "retreat" being the pullback by our British allies.

    The violence throughout Iraq can be graphed and there has been a downward slope in violence throughout Iraq including Basra. Central Command has such a chart and the actual graphic slope for every region in Iraq has been calculated.

    2.) The architects of the surge had a "grand plan" where the 20,000 man surge would be spread throughout Baghdad living in small enclaves. Reality set in and the limitations of logistics and security ended that fool hardy plan. Basically, the Captains, Majors and Lieutenant Colonels that fill the Staff Positions had a "polite revolt" and kept moving forward following procedure that they were taught in  OBC, OAC and at CGSC. Yes there are now enclaves in Baghdad but only a small fraction to the original grand plan. The ones that are in place have actually been well thought it. The "grand plan" was cheered on with a gung ho "Yes, Sir" followed up by "In order to house xxx soldiers, you need to first do this, then provide for that, making sure that AR xx.xxx has been followed. And we need to do that for every single xxx sized element." Why did staff officers follow such a route? That is what we are taught. The "grand plan" of Kagan has largely ground to a halt.

    Once Question Numbers 1 and 2 have been worked out, we are back to "Only the Iraqis can save Iraq. A victory in Iraq is the result of the Iraqi people, a failure in Iraq is the failure of the Iraqi people."

  •  But . . . but . . . (0+ / 0-)

    The glaring non sequitur in this "analysis" is the presumption that Sadr's decision could not have been influenced by the increased fatal opposition his movement faced from the surge.

    Some people trace cause/effect only when it supports their politics. If violence has increased, it must be because of some tactical gaffe by Petraeus, or some strategic blunder by the administration. If violence subsides, it can only be on account of the magnanimity of the beneficent Al Sadr.

    :-\

  •  As a Vietnam veteran (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auditor

    I´d like to weigh in with some information that isn´t widely known.  About half of the GI´s wounded (including me)in Vietnam were injured by"friendly fire".  My numbers are approximate and based anecdotally on my fellow wounded soldiers in the hospital. You have to realize that for every 100,000 bullets expended by us (consider things like helicopters with miniguns)the VC and NVA probably expended one.  I was in an armoured unit and whenever we were ambushed we put down a "field of fire".  The point is, that´s a lot of friendly fire.
    If an American was hit by friendly fire it wasn´t normally reported as, someone would get in trouble, and perhaps equally important the paperwork would be daunting.  These days it´s probably different. Roadside bombs do most of the killling, and actually the new Army is more professional than we were. My son is presently serving and I´ve been much impressed with the changes.

    The Truth is such that it cannot be seen and not be believed. Wm. Blake

    by John L on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 08:00:57 AM PST

    •  I would still count friendly fire (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      John L

      as a major component.  The habit of laying down a suppressing field of fire by infantry dates to WW2, I believe, where in Europe there was street to street fighting and in the Pacific with jungle combat.
      In both cases, snipers and concealed small units caused many casualties and the troops discovered laying down a field of fire increased the chances of killing the enemy or at least putting his head down until someone could make a killing shot.

      The military brass were very put out by this as it was a waste of ammo. But it did save lives.

  •  Has a deal been made? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ichi brown

     It's possible that a deal was struck between the current U.S. imposed government and Muqtada al-Sadr.  Sadr could have agreed to stop fighting and in return the Iraqi government may have promised to let him rule once the U.S. leaves.  If the U.S. doesn't leave, then the Mahdi army will do whatever it takes to force us to leave.  This definitely looks like some kind of deal between the ruling government and al-Sadr.  Both are Shi'ites and the Iraqi government must have lots of money to throw around. The current government needs to cooperate with al-Sadr if they want to stay alive after the U.S. leaves.  Even with al-Sadr supposedly on their side, staying in Iraq after the U.S. pulls out will be a very dangerous place to be for the current government.

  •  Yeh, We're doing so great (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ichi brown, One Opinion, mon

    Musharraff just pulled the final curtains away from a military dictatorship by arresting the Pakistani judiciary who might oppose his power grab. How dare their Supreme Court tell him he was not President for Life.
    The agreement to let Bhutto in is a smokescreen. GWB is so worried about the Iranians and nukes; the Paks are muslims who already have nukes.

  •  Violence will wax and wane (0+ / 0-)

    according to the will of the Iraqis.  Our opportunity to materially influence the course of events there evaporated about 4 years ago.

    They'll either decide to reconcile or they'll have a bloodbath.  We'll have little input as to which occurs, especially militarily, since logistically the surge recedes next spring regardless of situation.  The surge was a stop-gap measure to facilitate political reconciliation, not a long-term military strategy.  

    We may be able to facilitate diplomatically, but I'd lay the odds pretty low on that given this administration's past performance.

  •  Blackwater mercers are fighting (0+ / 0-)

    on behalf of US. That's why casualties not up.

  •  When this so-called lull... (0+ / 0-)

    ...is I’m betting over it will be discovered Bush Inc has paid an enormous amount of baksheesh to the several factions for a respite. Baksheesh is a very old Middle East tradition that will get one a service or favor for as long as the agreement and cash lasts. One can even buy off an enemy for a time, of course he will use the time and money to entrench and resupply as you can’t hit him and pay him not to fight at the same time. In the end it will cost more lives piles of taxpayer’s dollars and all the while the rebellious faction’s leaders are laughing at the naivety of Bush's neo-con morons. Bere Neo-Con should never have taken a swing Bere Saddam’s tar baby.

    The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool. George Santayana

    by Bobjack23 on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 09:16:47 AM PST

  •  "search and avoid" (0+ / 0-)

    now, where did I hear that term?

    you get the patrol order.
    get ammo and claymores from S-4
    coordinate the mortar/div arty pre set locations.
    go out and set up.
    and, so help me god, if HO CHI MINH came down that path with a marching band, if he didn't see you, you didn't see him.

  •  I disagree. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auditor, ichi brown

    Al Sadr is a clever opprtunist. I suspect the "surge" influenced his decicion to cease offensive operations for 6 months.

    He went into a "wait and see" mode, and wanted the US forces to concentrate tehir fire on his enemies rathen than him.

    It was extremely shrewd.

    I do agree, however, that this was not a planned outcome of the surge. It was an incidental one that was not predicted by the planner, but is highly fortuitous.

    Ironically, Al Sadr is doing exactly what Bush and the warfloggers claim our "enemies" would do if we announced a timetable for withdrawl. He is merely waiting things out. He's keeping his head down to allow the voilence to subside, and he knows that the US will drop its force levels next spring. At which point, he can ramp up his attacks on the Sunis and other Shia factions again.

    Ultimatelyk, then, what we are seeing is an unforseen consequence of the surge that is not necessarily a good thing from the US strategic perspective. The surge, as such, is not strengthening the puppet Iraqi regime -- as we hoped. It is actually bolstering Muqtada Al sadr.

    It is not surprising taht the Warfloggers are missing the strategic implications (and the forrest) for teh short termn politically convenient trees.

    They are strategic dunces, after all. That's what makes them warfloggers.

    •  It is the Badr brigade attacking Sunnis (0+ / 0-)

      al Sadr has been working WITH Sunni  groups for nationalism.  The Badr brigade which  is close to Iran and is from al Hakkim's separatist movement is the militia which has infiltrated the police and military and has been attacking Sunni. That's not to say there haven't been renegade Sadrists doing harm.US has picked al Sadr as the bogeyman. They never mention the Badr Brigade which trained in Iran.

      Do NOT donate to the DSCC or the DCCC, think Lieberman & BlueDogs. Support DNC and progressive candidates directly!

      by samddobermann on Wed Nov 07, 2007 at 02:28:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  They may well have chosen to stop fighting.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brandon Friedman, ichi brown

    ......because they knew the surge was coming.  Just sit back, minimize casualties and wait it out.  A good strategy for them.

    OR they could have stopped for any one of numerous other reasons, anyone that says they know why is probably lying.

    I'm just glad fewer people are dying and I hope it continues.

  •  Thom Hartmann is talking about this Diary (4+ / 0-)

    Air America, right now.

  •  Air America is talking about Brandon F. (15+ / 0-)

    Tom Hartman just finished reading portions of this post on air (with attribution, of course).

    This is the biggest deal in a while to hit DKos, imo.

    Good job buddy.

    "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." John F. Kennedy, Jan 20, 1961

    by Wheatbread on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 09:29:17 AM PST

  •  Liberals "Panicking" over less troop deaths (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maryru, Drewid

    www.drudge.com  OR www.foxnews.com   OR www.michele malkin.com  OR...whatever.

    The point has been made above again and again, without result, and the author still hasn't changed his phraseology in the first sentence. So maybe if he's perusing the comments he'll notice this one.

    This Diary has a tremendous amount of substantive value. But that first sentence is killing it.

    Who was Bush_Horror2004, anyway?

    by Dartagnan on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 09:33:58 AM PST

  •  Let's just hope (0+ / 0-)

    that after 6 months are up, they are not able to reassemble in full force.  No matter how much the Repbulicans do to deter my optimism about anything other than continual civil war, I still want something better.

    "Unrestricted immigration is a dangerous thing -- look at what happened to the Iroquois." Garrison Keillor

    by SpiderStumbled22 on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 09:37:32 AM PST

  •  Alternate analysis (0+ / 0-)

    Not to detract from this excellent diary, but I offered an alternate analysis on this question a couple of weeks ago:

    The War is Over, Long Live the War

    I would argue that the reason casualties dropped significantly last month is that one war (versus the Sunnis) is basically ending, and another (versus the Shiites) is only beginning.  

    However, as this diary points out, the fact that the summer was bloodier than usual and that a principle faction in the new war (that of Muqtada al Sadr) has called a truce, are undeniably important factors.  

  •  Greetings, lizardoids. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kath25, Brandon Friedman

    Well, Chucky (wingnut site warning), it had been all of ten days since your last link to a Daily Kos diary. I really had high hopes for you, but you just had to go and fall off the wagon, didn't you?

    Greetings, LGFers, and welcome to Daily Kos. Do be warned that we Kossacks have this bad habit of saying things that lizardoids don't like to hear. I know some of you are registered here, and maybe some of you could be so kind as to tell us, if things are going so swimmingly in Iraq, when our troops can come home.

    Osama has killed his thousands, and Bush his tens of thousands.

    by Sura 109 on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 10:02:46 AM PST

    •  Oh, and Chucky sez: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brandon Friedman, mon

      Long story short (these Kos Kook posts are always incredibly wordy): the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr has declared a cease-fire. That’s the only reason. Yep.

      Yes, because in-depth, reasoned argument, with citations -- that thing we adults call thinking -- is not to be preferred over a bit of drive-by snark.

      Then again, thinking has been known to make lizardoid heads explode. Chucky bans people from his blog for making his goose-stepping minions think.

      Osama has killed his thousands, and Bush his tens of thousands.

      by Sura 109 on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 10:21:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The obvious objection that would be made (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sura 109

    by the right to this diary is that Al-Sadr decided to stand down the Mahdi Army precisely because of the surge and how effective it was in combating its forces. Would there be any factual basis for making this assertion--i.e. could the surge itself have forced Al-Sadr to stand down? And if not, what DID make him decide to do this?

    Merely playing devil's advocate here (almost literally in the instance), as this is not what I believe. In fact, I don't know enough about recent events in Iraq to know what to believe.

    0101011101100101 010101000110100001100101 010100000110010101101111011100000110110001100101

    by kovie on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 10:11:01 AM PST

  •  Thank you for this! It's good to get some (0+ / 0-)

    truth in the world.  It is up to the Iraqis, and Cheney is going to have to give up on his oil/blood transfusion to keep him alive and ticking.

    Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be. Clementine Paddeford

    by blubryeyes on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 10:21:09 AM PST

  •  Where am I wrong? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ichi brown

    I'm sorry...I'm no Republican.  I hold what many back in the day seems to be Democratic values.  Thrift, accountability, honest in govt, limited government in personal decisions, etc.

    Some in this forum are saying "The first sentense is killing this thread.", and that it needs to be changed.  Why is that?

    Perhaps Reid and Pelosi are too nuanced for my UW-Madison educated brain and twice-deployed body to understand.

  •  additionally (0+ / 0-)

    the fact that the madhi army is less connected to the iranian government than the badr brigades sort of messes up the whole narrative, given the fact that we are also supporting the badr brigades' political wing as an ally in the puppet government.

    surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

    by wu ming on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 10:48:19 AM PST

  •  A better analysis (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auditor, HAL 9000, Vanceone

    A very sizable part of the violence in Iraq was being caused by Al Qaeda.  There is no question these people have been convinced to stop or been put out of business.  Given the legendary humanitarian nature of al Qaeda, one has to assume they were put out of business by someone.  And since the only people in Iraq capable of shutting AQI down are the US military, in conjunction with local Sunni leaders, then it follows that, in this respect, the surge has indeed worked to lower casualties.

    As for the Shiite militias, it is my understanding the the US is used to little bit of a different strategy to contain them.

    None of this jibes with Brandon's theory, but since I'm at least half right about Al Qaeda and I would find it utterly amazing that the US military did not also have a surge plan to address all major enemies plaguing our efforts in Iraq.

    Future American presidents of every political persuasion will benefit from the credibility we gain from turning the situation around and Iraq.  We took ownership of our problem, and put a plan in place to solve it, and it appears to be working.

    •  by al Qaeda do you mean foreign jihadists? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      trivium

      Because even US military figures put those at 6% or so. If you mean al Qaeda in Iraq, evidently as events transpire, it has little to do with bin Laden's group and seems to be falling out of favor among the Iraqis for a variety of reasons.  However, the question is where the original recruits for this organization came from, if there are so few foreign jihadists in the country. One would be forced to conclude that many of their recruits simply switch militias, if possible, as circumstances dictate.  

  •  switched sides... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auditor

    IIRC: We also switched sides.

    The people we were being killed by in 2003, are now the ones we're protecting.  The people we went in to liberate are now the targets of "terror suspects".  Doing quick google-news searches relating to iraq will show you the enemy changed.

    Al Sadr is slowing down attacks, I believe, to see if we're really on his side now.  I predict death tolls will rise again to summer levels come Dec/Jan.  Once the other side is fully understanding they are now the terrorists.  I could be wrong though.

  •  They can't have it both ways (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auditor, Brandon Friedman, mon

    In an AP story today:

    If four more U.S. troops by the year's end, this year will surpass 2004 as the bloodiest year of the war for the U.S.

    Some 850 troops died in 2004, mostly in larger, more conventional battles like the campaign to cleanse Fallujah of Sunni militants in November, and U.S. clashes with Shiite militiamen in the sect's holy city of Najaf in August.

    But the American military in Iraq reached its highest troop levels in Iraq this year 165,000. Moreover, the military's decision to send soldiers out of large bases and into Iraqi communities means more troops have seen more "contact with enemy forces" than ever before, said Maj. Winfield Danielson, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.

    "It's due to the troop surge, which allowed us to go into areas that were previously safe havens for insurgents," Danielson said. "Having more soldiers, and having them out in the communities, certainly contributes to our casualties."

    In other words: the drop in casualties is due to the troop surge, and the increase in casualties is due to the troop surge.

  •  there are some other reasons (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auditor

    like "paying off" the Sunnis to go after "al Qaeda" - which really means "BRIBE" (if it works, I am all for it).

    and then there is the fact that a lot of sectarian segregation has taken place, that reduced the Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence - with about 2.3 million internally displaced, often with NOTHING not even clean water to drink

    and then there is the fact that US air bombing is more than double last year's rate, which is significantly higher than the year before..... but the point is, we OFTEN do not hear about casualties among Iraqis from US air bombing

    And finally, Dahr Jamail has reported that US troops go out on a mission and basically sit somewhere and do nothing.  I don't know if this last one is true, but I am seeing a significant increase in the US troops negative opinions about serving in Iraq, and they are getting more and more public about it.

    Kos: Bush won't cancel the next round of elections to remain in power. Me: I am not so sure.

    by dancewater on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 12:08:13 PM PST

  •  The surge was never supposed to work (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brandon Friedman
    because if it had(ever does), then Bush would have had(have) to concede to troop withdrawals and the idea that someday this war might end.

    The idea here is to keep the threat level oscillating between "We're turning the corner" and "We're all gonna die if we don't send in everything we've got".

    It's going to be a ying-yang between desperately needing more to keep up the good work and evidence of just enough good work to make people giving in to the "more".

    "Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia..." 1984

    "Someday this war's gonna end..." Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now

    George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

    by snafubar on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 02:42:12 PM PST

  •  The co-author of the surge is advising Clinton (0+ / 0-)

    Bill Richardson: "Get out now. Get all our troops out now. It is the only right and responsible choice."

    by Stephen Cassidy on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 05:06:39 PM PST

  •  I spoke to the MultiNational Forces (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auditor

    Hi.  I'm hoping I can have a respectful, rational conversation with you.

    I called the MultiNational Forces HQ in Baghdad, asked them a few questions, and this is the reply I got back from them tonight:

    It is true that the Al Sadr's truce is helping contribute to lower
    casualty and attack numbers, but the change in Coalition Force tactics
    is really making an impact.  One example is that CF are putting troops
    with Iraqi troops in Joint Security Stations, and this has improved
    local relations. Getting out there in the community has made locals more
    willing to share information with Iraqi Security Forces and CF, so we
    can dislodge the al Qaeda elements out of neighborhoods.

    Something else that has been effective on lowering the number of attacks
    and helping deny terrorist safe havens are Concerned Local Citizen
    Groups.  CLCs have made immense strides starting with Sunni Groups in
    Anbar this summer and continuing with Shia groups elsewhere in Iraq.
    The troop surge is allowing CF to set up numerous meetings with tribal
    leaders to help find out what their concerns are, and then we work with
    them from there.  In addition to addressing local leaders concerns, CF
    is getting them to think nationally about Iraq, and how they play a role
    in local leadership and national rebuilding and reconciliation.  

    V/R,
    SPC Charles Espie
    MNF-I Press Desk

    It would seem that the United States disagrees with this DailyKos article.

    Thank you,

    Victor T

    •  If you believe all US mil press releases (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peace voter

      it's been getting better in Iraq all the time. Must be a paradise by now.

      Read something besides the official propaganda.

      Do NOT donate to the DSCC or the DCCC, think Lieberman & BlueDogs. Support DNC and progressive candidates directly!

      by samddobermann on Wed Nov 07, 2007 at 02:34:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I smell victory (0+ / 0-)

    Now that the violence is down, let's declare victory and leave forthwith!

    Just a crazy thought.

    (Bush) believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. -- Colbert

    by makemefree on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 08:01:02 PM PST

  •  Sunnis and Shiites are More Intent on Killing (0+ / 0-)

    One another, than killing American soldiers and Marines. It is easier for them to kill one another than target American troops. Targetting Americans just gets in the way of them killing one another.

    American deaths were down again for October, but Iraqi deaths actually rose slightly for October.

    In addition, I believe increased air strikes instead of ground strikes have also contributed to lower troop deaths. How many times in the last 3-4 months have we heard of US airstrikes in Baqquba? The strategy seems to be airstrike first, then ground troops. If the conflict is too hairy, then another airstrike. Then all the dead Iraqis involved are labeled "terrorists." Even women and children.

    The Fix is In! The September Report Says Iraq is AWESUM!!!1111!!!!11

    by kefauver on Tue Nov 06, 2007 at 01:54:37 PM PST

  •  Wretchard on this post. (0+ / 0-)

    here.

    This place seems to be one big Epicycle.

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