Missing the Forest for the Trees
Glenn Reynolds links to several commentators who are outraged that the media isn’t making a big deal of the fact that the past two months have seen a drop in U.S. casualties in Iraq. Among those linked is Dean Barnett, who complains:
YOU’D THINK THIS would be a big story. After all, the mainstream media makes such a show of “supporting the troops” at every turn, you’d think it would rush to report the amazing story of our soldiers accomplishing what many observers declared “impossible” and “unwinnable” not so long ago.
This type of observation completely misses the point. A two-month in a row drop in U.S. casualties is nothing new. it has happened several times over the course of the war and occupation. Two-month in a row drops in Iraqi deaths have also occurred several times. A steady drop in deaths over the course of six months might be news, but over two months it’s just a statistical blip.
Furthermore, the ostensible purpose of U.S. forces in Iraq is to provide enough security to facilitate the democratic political unification of Iraq and to transition security operations to the Iraqi government. Progress on both political unification and security transitions have made barely any progress at all. Sunni militias may have taken our money and equipment to turn on al-Qaeda, but they still happily attack Shi’ites. Shi’ite militia members still dominate the “Iraqi” security forces. The Kurds are still barely acknowledging that the central government even exists.
Even if it’s true that the “Surge” is improving the security situation in Iraq–a proposition for which there is still insufficient evidence–it doesn’t appear to be doing anything at all to improve the political situation in Iraq.