What the establishment media covering Iraq have utterly failed to make clear today is this central reality: With the exception of periodic flare-ups in isolated corners, our struggle in Iraq as warfare is over. Egregious acts of terror will continue ? in Iraq as in many other parts of the world. But there is now no chance whatever of the U.S. losing this critical guerilla war.
….Policing and political problem-solving are mostly tasks for Iraqis, not Americans. And the Iraqis are taking them up, often with gusto. I saw much evidence that responsible Iraqis are gradually isolating the small but dangerously nihilistic minority trying to strangle their new society. With each passing month, U.S. forces will more and more become a kind of SWAT team that intervenes only to multiply the force of the emerging Iraqi security forces, and otherwise stays mostly in the background.
I can’t tell you how much I’d like to believe this. Unfortunately, the “last throes” crowd usually retails their stories with a little bit of local color (cell phones are everywhere!) but few actual facts.
There’s a reason for this: the closest thing we have to facts in Iraq is probably the Brookings Institution’s monthly “Iraq Index” summaries, and they continue to tell a grim story. The chart on the right shows two different estimates of monthly Iraqi civilian deaths as a result of acts of war, and although the recent drop from March to April was good news, the overall trend is still pretty steadily upward. It’s true that U.S. troop casualties have been decreasing for the past few months, but in addition to the increase in Iraqi civilian deaths, Iraqi troop casualties are up, car bombings are up, and the number of daily attacks by insurgents is up. If this is what counts as “over,” I’d hate to see what counts as actual war.
American casualties from bomb attacks in Iraq have reached new heights in the last two months as insurgents have begun to deploy devices that leave armored vehicles increasingly vulnerable, according to military records.
….The insurgents “certainly appear to be surging right now,” Brig. Gen. Joseph L. Votel, who leads the anti-I.E.D. task force, said in an interview at Fort Irwin. “Time will tell about their ability to sustain this.”
And Lt. Gen. John Vines, the senior operational commander in Iraq, says not to expect any troop drawdown for at least a year.
I really wish things were looking up in Iraq. Unfortunately, non-ideologues on the ground who are genuinely optimistic are pretty hard to find.