Juan Cole sheds some reality on why the surge is failing.
Al-Anbar residents killed 20 US troops in July. The total US fatalities in July were 79 according to icasualties.org, and some of those were presumably from accidents, etc. So al-Anbar, despite being reduced to the stone age, managed to kill a fourth or more of all US troops killed in combat in July. Al-Anbar is roughly 1/24 of Iraq by population. So it killed six times more US troops than we would have expected based on its proportion of the Iraqi population.
That’s what the Bushies are celebrating, that the deadly al-Anbar has been wrestled down to only killing a fourth of the US troops killed in a month. It used to be more.
In mid-July, There were about 100 violent attacks in a single week in al-Anbar. That’s a bright spot. That’s progress. Since the year before, there were 400 violent attacks in that same period.
Well, yes, that’s a relative improvement. But a hundred violent attacks in a week? That’s being touted as good news to be ecstatic over? There were probably on the order of 1100 attacks that week in all of Iraq. So al-Anbar generated nearly one-tenth of all attacks. But it is only 1/24 of Iraq by population, so it is more than twice as dangerous with regard to the number of attacks than you would expect from its small population.
As for Fallujah, well, all is not what it seems.
One of the ways “calm” has been produced in the city is to simply forbid vehicular traffic. Since May, if you wanted to get somewhere in Fallujah, you have had to walk. So when the National Review tells us things are suddenly miraculously “calm” in al-Anbar, this is being produced artificially. Things would be calm in most hot spots if you could ban all forms of locomotion save walking.
IPS quotes a local Sunni cleric:
‘ “To say Fallujah is quiet is true, and you can see it in the city streets,” said Shiek Salim from the Fallujah Scholars’ Council. “The city is practically dead, and the dead are quiet.’
As for Baghdad.
“BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber detonated a vest packed with explosives in a Sunni Arab mosque in Fallujah yesterday, killing 10 worshipers, including the imam, and shattering what had been a period of relative calm for a region once the most volatile hotbed of Iraq’s insurgency.”
Now, if ten worshippers were killed in a church just last week in a small US city of 200,000, would Congressmen be flocking there to proclaim how wonderful the security situation was?
Larry Johnson has his own take on the surge.
The Newsweek piece, Baghdad’s New Owners, confirms my earlier prediction that we would see a decline in civilian casualties in Baghdad because of the “success” of the ethnic cleansing. As you drive the Sunnis out of their neighborhoods there are fewer Sunnis to kill.