April 17, 2005

Waning Insurgency?

Are daily attacks in Iraq going down, as has been widely reported? Maybe not. Patrick Cockburn points out the numbers behind the numbers:
Most violent incidents in Iraq go unreported. We saw one suicide bomb explosion, clouds of smoke and dust erupting into the air, and heard another in the space of an hour. Neither was mentioned in official reports. Last year US soldiers told the IoS that they do not tell their superiors about attacks on them unless they suffer casualties. This avoids bureaucratic hassle and "our generals want to hear about the number of attacks going down not up". This makes the official Pentagon claim that the number of insurgent attacks is down from 140 a day in January to 40 a day this month dubious.
Oh. The fall in U.S. casualties, meanwhile, seems to have stemmed mostly from the military scaling back its offensive operations, not necessarily a collapse in the insurgency. But on the bright side: "With US networks largely confined to their hotels in Baghdad by fear of kidnapping, it is possible to sell the American public the idea that no news is good news."
-- Brad Plumer 7:04 PM || ||