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Scott Ott points out (as only he can) something most people are overlooking on the Pentagon "Iraq review" story:
The unnamed Pentagon official in charge of leaking national security secrets to the Washington Post said it’s possible that the U.S. could adopt some combination of the three.His three options are a bit different than the Washington Post report - but I'm talking about the yet another leaked secret study aspect of this. (Of course, some secrets are more secret than others - nudge nudge wink wink.)
But speaking of three, I'm glad to see Scott's cousin is one of the "three high-profile colonels" leading the review group - that's not a joke.
On another note, here's an interesting tidbit from the WaPo original:
The military's study, commissioned by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, comes at a time when escalating violence is causing Iraq policy to be reconsidered by both the White House and the congressionally chartered, bipartisan Iraq Study Group.Interesting how that's become conventional wisdom - but it's also wrong:
Violence in Iraq Drops in Weeks After RamadanWhich comes as no surprise to anyone who was paying attention. But that's from a military public press release - not a leaked secret study - so don't expect to see anything "in the paper" about decreasing violence - apparently it's something they'd prefer you not know.
Nov. 20, 2006
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON – As expected, violence in Iraq has dropped following the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a coalition spokesman said in Baghdad today.
Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said civilian and Iraqi security force casualties were at the lowest levels since the government was formed in May.
So far this month, the civilian casualty count is well below the casualty count in October and below the six-month average. The security force casualties reduced 21 percent over the past four weeks, and are at the lowest level in 25 weeks, he said.
“In Baghdad, there was a 22 percentage drop in casualties related to sectarian violence and executions,” Caldwell said during a televised news conference. “Coalition forces will continue to work closely with the Iraqi government and Iraqi security forces to control the sectarian violence and terrorist attacks.”
Update: Via comments, a link to an AP headline that screams: U.N.: Iraqi civilian deaths at new high, and some accusations that this runs counter to Maj. Gen. William Caldwell's report. (In fact, some accusations that the general is in effect lying.
But a read of the story's first paragraph is revealing:
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The United Nations said Wednesday that 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in October, the highest monthly toll since the March 2003 U.S. invasion and another sign of the severity of Iraq's sectarian bloodbath.In short, the UN is releasing a report about the death toll in October - which is news to no one other than the UN. Though not a direct part of this discussion, read deeper into the report and you'll find the AP acknowledges the numbers are disputed: "The U.N. tally was more than three times higher than the total The Associated Press had tabulated for the month" and "Asked about the U.N. report, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh called it "inaccurate and exaggerated".
Regardless of the exact number, no one is disputing the October death toll was high - it certainly was one of the highest since the invasion for America troops. While it is more correct to say the Ramadan death toll was high - as the Ramadan death toll typically is - it is certainly not news. Scarcely a day went by when we weren't reminded of the fact when it was news.
So how does the AP cover the post-Ramadan drop in violence? By ignoring it and covering a story that the UN has announced what those of us who have been paying attention to Iraq already knew - and putting a misleading headline on top.
I've said all along that one of the biggest problems with Islam is Ramadan. Starving during daylight hours for a solid month is a guaranteed tactic to make the populace mean, especially when the more volatile members are doing low-level drugs at the same time. People have laughed at me for saying that, but I believe it. Spiritual renewal my left buttock.Posted by RebeccaH at November 22, 2006 02:56 AM
Rebecca, that's kind of silly. Ramadan is definitely a time of spiritual focus, and that is more than enough to explain an increase in violence, and that only because there are so many imams that have no compunction about extolling martyrdom and whatnot. But it's not the fasting per se, anymore than bloated fat overfed Americans are led to act in any particular way. There are still many many parts of the world where one meal a day is considered damn good eating, and by and large these societies are not notably violent.Posted by happyfeet at November 22, 2006 03:29 AM
You're mistaking the reaction of the decently well-off in monetary needs, and the truly poor. In the LA Rodney King riots, it was not the poorest sections of town that started the riots first, but in fact those sections of town where the black community was doing better than average.
Granted, the ordinary American might still have called it a bit rough.
The truly poor don't usually riot except in absolute extreme desperation. Its the ones that have enough food, and have too much free time, and are thinking they should be doing better ('the revolution of rising expectations') who cause most of the problems.
Note, also, most of the terrorists came from upper-middle class families, and OBL certainly never needed to scrape for a dollar.
The truly poor (which is a relative thing, different in each society) are focused usually on getting through the day, and don't have time to cause trouble.Posted by Tennwriter at November 22, 2006 11:22 AM
This is in direct contradiction to reports such as this:
"U.N.: Iraqi civilian deaths at new high"
"Hundreds of bodies continued to appear in different areas of Baghdad handcuffed, blindfolded and bearing signs of torture and execution-style killing," the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq report said. "Many witnesses reported that perpetrators wear militia attire and even police or army uniforms."
I think the Maj. General was playing with the statistics . . . In any case, how would the US military know, as the official position is that the US doesn't track civillian deaths?Posted by Wakka at November 22, 2006 12:50 PM
Let me help you correctly read the AP article.
"The UN, based on data provided by the Iraqi Ministry of Health,which is run by Moqtada Alsadr's political party said"
Having said that, the UN is talking about the period of Ramadan, and the good general is talking about the post Ramadan period.
Iraq is "smokers heaven", smoking during the fasting period is also prohibited. Anyone who has been around a person that is quitting smoking knows they are somwehat "cranky".Posted by Soldier's Dad at November 22, 2006 01:18 PM
Actually, it's in direct support of the above. Secifically, this quote from your link:
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The United Nations said Wednesday that 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in October, the highest monthly toll since the March 2003 U.S. invasion and another sign of the severity of Iraq's sectarian bloodbath.
Happy Ramadan to you too.Posted by anon at November 22, 2006 01:19 PM
Could it be the Iraqi terrorists were "muscling up" for the US mid-term elections?
Spikes in the linked chart occured as these same terrorists "muscled up" for Iraqi elections.Posted by Gary at November 22, 2006 01:37 PM
Wakka is correct; the MGEN is clearly playing with the numbers.
Note his carefully selected stats:
So far this month, the civilian casualty count is well below the casualty count in October and below the six-month average. The security force casualties reduced 21 percent over the past four weeks, and are at the lowest level in 25 weeks,
Given that civilian casualties in Oct were at an all-time high, it's not surprising there's been a drop-off. The 6 month average is meaningless when you consider violence had increased dramatically (Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct) in recent months.
In Baghdad, there was a 22 percentage drop in casualties related to sectarian violence and executions
In Baghdad. Cherrypicking.Posted by Jadegold at November 22, 2006 03:18 PM
"Given that civilian casualties in Oct were at an all-time high, it's not surprising there's been a drop-off. The 6 month average is meaningless when you consider violence had increased dramatically (Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct) in recent months."
Then it is also not surprising, that when violence is at a low -- either for a month or a 6-month trend -- that it then upticks. Does it make this 6M avg. "meaningless"? I think not. Trends are important as they help provide context and direction -- something the press ignores and is therefore professionally negligent.
Also, how many times has the media provided this context when violence went from low to high? How many articles have you seen -- on the front pages and at the top of the news hour -- that highlight these drops in violence when they occur? Answer to both: None. All we got in October (just the most recent example) was the daily death toll and how it was the highest on record or for the year, etc. Never do we see the downticks displayed as prominently as the upticks.Posted by Matt at November 22, 2006 03:39 PM
Matt: Indeed, trends are important. But it must be pointed out that the past 4 months or so have seen record violence in Iraq. To then claim that 20 days in Nov--with lower violence--represents some kind of trend is inaccurate.
Let's put it another way; let's say you have a business. In five months time, you lose an average of $100 each month. In month 6, however, you lose only $80. Can you seriously claim business is getting better?
Upon further research, I'm beginning to doubt there has actually been a downtick in Nov. In fact, Bush is supposed to meet with Maliki to discuss the worsening violence in Iraq shortly.Posted by Jadegold at November 22, 2006 03:49 PM
Tenn - ok ok - fine. But my point is that fasting is not in and of itself a root cause of terrorism. That's all. The Muslims I see that get grumpy during Ramadan, it's specifically cause they miss their coffee. I can relate.Posted by happyfeet at November 22, 2006 06:12 PM
I think one actually has to give the media some credit. There are independent sources that dispute the armed forces press report. Violence may have gone down against Americans but for Iraqis the curve has remained about the same-Ramadan or no Ramadan.
Either way its still trying to polish that which should not be polished.Posted by Skippy-san at November 23, 2006 01:13 AM
No attempt to polish here. I've noted the bad months and the "good", and those who will actually look at Brookings numbers will see what I called it last month - the line looks like a saw's edge and the only trend is chaos. About the only real signal in the noise is the pre- and post- April '04 averages, an increase caused by a confluence of the battle for Fallujah and CBS' release of the Abu Ghraib photos.
But there is something about the press reporting only the worst months, then in the better ones only reporting on reports about the worst months, that smacks of something other than honest and forthright journalism.Posted by Greyhawk at November 23, 2006 02:24 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(13) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)