On the Subject of Reality

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Since we’re on the subject of reality, here’s a way of putting it together. From Juan Cole:

I personally find the controversy about Iraq in Washington to be bizarre. Are they really arguing about whether the situation is improving? I mean, you have the Night of the Living Dead over there. People lack potable water, cholera has broken out even in the good areas, a third of people are hungry, a doubling of the internally displaced to at least 1.1 million, and a million pilgrims dispersed just this week by militia infighting in a supposedly safe all-Shiite area. The government has all but collapsed, with even the formerly cooperative sections of the Sunni Arab political class withdrawing in a snit (much less more Sunni Arabs being brought in from the cold). The parliament hasn’t actually passed any legislation to speak of and often cannot get a quorum. Corruption is endemic. The weapons we give the Iraqi army are often sold off to the insurgency. Some of our development aid goes to them, too.

The average number of Iraqis killed in 2007 per day exceeds those killed in 2006. Independent counts by news organizations do not agree with Pentagon estimates about drops in civilian deaths over-all. Nation-wide attacks in June reached a daily all-time high of 177.5. True, violence in Baghdad has been wrestled back down to the levels of summer, 2006 (hint: it wasn’t paradise), but violence levels are up in the rest of the country. If you compare each month in 2006 with each month in 2007 with regard to US military deaths, the 2007 picture is dreadful.

There are numerous important links at the source. He has an important factual repeat:

Repeat: US troop deaths in Iraq have not fallen and that is not a reason to support the troop escalation. And, violence in Iraq has not fallen because of the surge. Violence is way up this year.


5 responses to “On the Subject of Reality”

  1. gibb says:

    And what do you think will happen if we up and leave?

  2. Steve says:

    Why do you ask?

    Cole’s point does not go to staying or going. Honest accounting is one of his aims.

  3. gibb says:

    You’re right, my question considered the Iraqi civilian deaths that might (or might not) be increased should U.S. troops withdraw their protection and consequent sacrifice. If we’re concerned here only with numbers of AMERICAN military deaths, then of course the result of a pullout will be a zero death rate. And worse, if all we’re concerned with is accounting policies, then someone is not telling the truth and he (and his administration) should be burned at the stake.

  4. Steve says:

    I’d prefer The Hague to a stake burning.

    But I think the point goes more to how people often prefer some to other numbers. Iraq, according to those who are reporting (and living) this, is a mess, but mainly for those who have to live there or who have to flee to surrounding areas. All spatial definitions have changed: home, well being, place.

  5. gibb says:

    Yes, it is far better, I’m sure, to wait for that midnight knock on the door as in the good old days of Saddam.

    I’ve read somewhere that even as deaths are up during these war years as 150 per 100,000, under Saddam the average was 100 per 100,000. But it is all dependent upon the credibility of the reporting as well as the area of “home” involved. For many who formerly felt secure, Iraq is now a place of danger, upheaval and death. For many others it may have become a place of fighting back instead of just plain fear suffered in silence. In any case, the odds have changed; life as once they knew it is no more. The spatial definitions as you say, have changed completely.

    But looking back cannot help much in this case and maybe the need for the U.S. to leave is imperative because the Iraqi people need to settle this themselves now that they have the freedom to do so. If they choose to fight each other in the name of religion or ethnicity–which they couldn’t do before–so be it. Personally, I feel that since they never will agree, the best alternative may be to separate and split off Iraq into the factions they choose to remain to be. Once again, the wisdom of Solomon need prevail.