Iraq: Just 5 Bodies a Day!

Sometimes the definitions we work with really do matter.  “What do you mean when you say ‘Livable’?” is a question worth answering.  In the discussion surrounding a posted response to JLG’s bar for success in Iraq, I stated:

No JLG, the country is not livable again. Its come under a repression incarnation of sharia law. There are bombings and murders daily. The government is still sharply divided, and the police force is still under trained and corrupt.

He responded with an update and comment pointing to a New York Times article.  His overriding assertion is that Iraq is in fact livable:

Here another, more recent refutation of the claim by “Dan (fitness)” that “Iraq is not livable again,” and his accusation that I’m merely viewing the world through the “conservative black and white lens.”

Let’s look at that NYTimes article, shall we?  (Emphasis mine)

The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad’s streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says.

Don’t get me wrong, the math speaks for itself.  Finding less bodies on the street is a good thing.  But in what twisted world is that livable?

My reference to a “black and white lens” referred to the idea that we can either surrender or keep fighting forever.  There are other options.  And frankly, JLG had no response to this:

My facts are rock solid. Further, those answers I do have are not driven by idealogical blindness and an inability to acknowledge reality.

That seems like a worse option than cleaning up our mess with the surge.

Did you forget the surge was to clean up our mess with the invasion? That it is actually the second surge, cleaning up the first? Do you suggest another surge, ad nauseum?

When will Republican acknowledge the reality on the ground, and stop cheerleading the bloodletting?

In choosing a path for America to take on Iraq, we shouldn’t be letting a psychopathic need to prove the invasion (or the first corner, the victory, the surge, or the second surge) a success drive our decision making or our assessment of the reality on the ground.


20 Responses

  1. That’s a murder rate that is comparable to some major American cities. Are you going to argue that Los Angeles and Detroit are not livable? What a joke! Our troops have done an admirable job and it’s unfortunate that you don’t have the integrity to admit that. By the way, did you read the rest of the article? It talks about how the surge has succeeded in allowing Iraqis to lead a normal life. I don’t know how you can’t admit that when the New York Times is. So who is the one blinded by ideology?

  2. […] (Update 3) February 14, 2008 — JLG “Dan (Fitness)” just won’t give it up!  He responded to the New York Times article by completely ignoring the descriptions of Baghdad […]

  3. Uhh, The DFW area has probably 5 bodies a day show up; me, I’m not packing up to leave. And I’ll take the ‘facts on the ground’ from people who are over there who say things have gotten much better. As for livable; I’ve been to Africa in places that would consider Baghdad eminently livable (including the gunfire rate). And the conditions there aren’t even America’s fault.

    The ‘sharply divide’ government just goes to prove they are emulating us too closely. Still they pulled it together in the last couple days to pass some significant legislation. Can our legislature say the same (other than irresponble tax giveaways)?

  4. “And the conditions there aren’t even America’s fault.”

    Dick Cheney seemed to have spoken to that years before he became a war monger.

    What I’m saying is that to judge who’s fault the blame goes to is to ask if the situation could have been predicted. If the negative results may have been avoided.

    With all the “intelligence” the U.S. gathers, the administration would have us believe that the CIA and the FBI are the most incompetent agencies in our government, After quoting them correctly on the possible negative effects they proceed to ignoring the data that could have been used to avoid the whole mess in the first place.

    I don’t understand how you could say the U.S. isn’t at fault for conditions we are aware of and could change for the better but refuse to. We do nothing to curb genocide in countries with no U.S. interests at stake. Apparently our own country is one of these.

    Granted this is still the best country to live in but it’s getting worse not better.

    Have a nice recession see you at the depression.

  5. Learn to read; I was speaking of that we have no fault in Africa; a sign that- Gee!- there are real bad guys in the world that aren’t caused by America’s presence! I know that might be a shock to you.

    The depression comes when the Baby Boomer’s greed sucks productivity dry and the Social Security and Medicare systems we worked so studiously to bankrupt pulls the economy under. The greatest generation is closely followed by the personally greediest and most irresponsible generation.

  6. “Did you forget the surge was to clean up our mess with the invasion? That it is actually the second surge, cleaning up the first? Do you suggest another surge, ad nauseum?”

    You accused me of not responding to this, so here you go. We don’t need any more surges because — even though you,, and a few remaining Democrats refuse to acknowlege it — this one has succeeded in quelling violence and securing Baghdad. Do you really believe that Iraq is no better off than it was a year ago? If so, then you are what you have accused me of: “driven by idealogical (sic) blindness”

  7. Oh really?

    McClatchy 02/11/2008

    BAGHDAD — Violence is increasing in Iraq, raising questions about whether the security improvements credited to the increase in U.S. troops may be short-lived.

    Car bombs in Baghdad on Monday killed at least 11 people and injured a prominent leader of one of the country’s most influential American-allied tribal militias.

    The Ministry of Electricity announced that power to much of the nation, already anemic, is likely to lag in coming days because insurgents had blown up transmission facilities and natural gas pipelines that fuel generators.

    CBS News confirmed that two of its journalists are missing in Basra, in Iraq’s south.

    A leading parliament member warned that budget disputes have paralyzed the legislature.


    Cristian Science Monitor Feb. 13, 2008

    Baghdad – The tribal rebellion among Sunni Arabs against Al Qaeda in Anbar Province, which later spread to Baghdad and other parts of the country, is by all accounts the crown jewel of US achievements in Iraq over the past year.

    But now the Sahwa (Awakening) Movement is under growing assault on multiple fronts, threatening to undo many of the American military’s recent security gains.

    While Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) insurgents have been hitting it hard in a campaign of increasing attacks, the movement’s leaders are also pushing for a greater voice in the government, a move that has tangled them within Baghdad’s notoriously vicious political scene.

    At least 147 members of militias within this movement, now called Sons of Iraq instead of Concerned Local Citizens (CLC) by the US, have been killed in attacks attributed to Al Qaeda since October, according to Iraq Body Count, a website that tracks Iraqi deaths in the war.

    One of the Sahwa founders, Sheikh Ali al-Hatem, escaped Monday what he said was the sixth attempt on his life. The movement’s driving force, Sheikh Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, was killed in September.

    In Baquba, north of Baghdad, sectarian pressure is hampering the movement. Hundreds of Sahwa militiamen protested Monday to demand that the provincial police chief, a Shiite, be fired for sanctioning alleged crimes against Sunnis within the province. The protesters threatened to quit their jobs as neighborhood guards, paid mainly by the US.

    Iraq’s Shiite-led government has also delayed drafting Sahwa members into the police and Army. Only 10 percent of the 77,000 Sahwa members have been accepted for training for police and Army jobs. Of those, 490 have completed training, according to a US-led coalition spokesman, Rear Adm. Greg Smith.

  8. Also on the Lancet Study:

    Editor & Publisher February 15, 2008

    February 14, 2008) — (Commentary) One puzzling aspect of the news media’s coverage of the Iraq war is their squeamish treatment of Iraqi casualties. The scale of fatalities and wounded is a difficult number to calculate, but its importance should be obvious. Yet, apart from some rare and sporadic attention to mortality figures, the topic is virtually absent from the airwaves and news pages of America. This absence leaves the field to gross misunderstandings, ideological agendas, and political vendettas.

    The upshot is that the American public—and U.S. policy makers, for that matter—are badly informed on a vital dimension of the war effort.

    As an academic interested in the war’s violence, I commissioned a household survey in October 2005 to gauge mortality, and I naturally turned to the best professionals available—the Johns Hopkins University epidemiologists who had conducted such surveys before in Iraq, Congo, and elsewhere. Their survey of 1,850 households resulted in a shocking number: 600,000 dead by violence in the first 40 months of the war. The survey was extensively peer reviewed and published in the British medical journal, the Lancet, in October 2006


    The attack, by reporters Carl Cannon and Neil Munro, which was largely built on persistent complaints of two critics and heaps of innuendo, was largely ignored—its circulation is only about 10,000—until the Wall Street Journal picked up on one bit of their litany: that “George Soros” funded the survey. “The Lancet study was funded by anti-Bush partisans and conducted by antiwar activists posing as objective researchers,” said the January 9, 2008, editorial (titled “The Lancet’s Political Hit”) and concluded: “the Lancet study could hardly be more unreliable.” The editorial created sensation in the right-wing blogosphere and in several allied news outlets.

    Let me convey what I thought was a simple and unremarkable fact I told Munro in an interview in November and one of the Lancet authors emailed Cannon the details of how the survey was funded. My center at MIT used internal funds to underwrite the survey. More than six months after the survey was commissioned, the Open Society Institute, the charitable foundation begun by Soros, provided a grant to support public education efforts of the issue. We used that to pay for some travel for lectures, a web site, and so on.

    OSI, much less Soros himself (who likely was not even aware of this small grant), had nothing to do with the origination, conduct, or results of the survey. The researchers and authors did not know OSI, among other donors, had contributed. And we had hoped the survey’s findings would appear earlier in the year but were impeded by the violence in Iraq. All of this was told repeatedly to Munro and Cannon, but they choose to falsify the story. Charges of political timing were especially ludicrous, because we started more than a year before the 2006 election and tried to do the survey as quickly as possible. It was published when the data were ready.

  9. Your numbers JLG tend to ignore what is happening around the country. Violence has increased in the Kurdish North with both fighting against the MEK by Iranians and the PKK by the Turks, the very thing many warned would happen. There also an increased of political violence in the South as well. Calming Baghdad (and thats not counting how effective the ethic cleansing was, no people, no violence) is not enough.

    And the comparisons with American cities are invalid, last time I check nobody exploded a car bomb during a Pistons game or machined gunned a crowed of tourist in Malibu.

  10. If you honestly can’t admit, despite overwhelming evidence, that Iraq is better off today than it was a year ago then this conversation is not going anywhere. Violence didn’t go down because insurgents ran out of people to kill. It’s because our troops, through hard work and sacrifice, have destroyed their network. I understand that you’re beholden to your ideology. It’s just too bad you have to trash our troops…

  11. You have any prove of that. One (the surge) does not necessarily follow the other. I gave you counter proofs to your quoted.

    Do not try to ensnare me by using post hoc ergo propter hoc or non sequiturs.

    Where is this overwhelming evidence you speak off?

    What are the sources?

    What are the motivations of said sources?

    Can other conclusions be drawn from the data?

    And if things are better, then what?

    Is the U.S. going to pull out, if so, when?

    What are the conditions for victory?

    It seems that everything supports continuing the war, if things are bad, then you got to fight on, if things are good then you keep at it.

    What is the end goal here?

    Oh and by the way, they are not my troops, and I am not trashing them. Don’t confuse criticism of tactics, doctrines and policies with critique of “the troops”.

  12. ralfast said

    “It seems that everything supports continuing the war”

    Excepting of course the 70+% of the citizens opposed to the war. 🙂

    Oh, and with regards to clinging to ideologies, who’s trashing the troops here? It seems ralfast would like the troops to come home and be safe and JLG has no problems leaving them at the mercy of IED’s, snipers, and restricted rules of engagement (can’t shoot until shot at). JLG war is hell right? So you want to keep the troops in hell?
    JLG you’re a dumb ass.

  13. JLG, you are manipulating facts to suit your ideology! Just muster the humility for one brief moment to think that you might be wrong. You say, “That’s a murder rate that is comparable to some major American cities.”

    That’s a murder rate comparable to NO American city. 5 dead a day times one year equals 1825.

    New York had less than 500 murders in 2007. The LAPD reported 379 people had been killed in Los Angeles as of December 15, 2007.

    You are either making your numbers up or quoting Fox News (which has said what you say). In either scenario, your powers of reason have no place in responsible debate.

  14. I’m sorry “mdking.” I know I used some big words, like the “PER CAPITA” murder rate. That means per the number of people living in a city. Let’s take the Detroit comparison, and I’ll use smaller words. Baghdad has a population of about 7,000,000 people. Detroit has 900,000. So of course, Detroit has lower absolute crime rates. That’s like saying there is less crime in Boise, Idaho than in New York City. Duh! The question is “PER CAPITA,” or how many murders are there PER PERSON in the city? That’s not manipualting facts, it’s just how adults compare crime in cities that are vastly different in size. At five per day, Bagdad would have, as you said, 1,825 murders in a year. Well done on your basic multiplication skills, but here’s where PER CAPTIA comes in to play. That’s 1 murder for every 3,835 citizens. Now Detroit (again only about 1/7 the population of Bahdad) had 354 murders in 2006. That’s one murder for only every 2,542 citizens. PER CAPITA, genius. Get a clue. Detroit’s PER CAPITA murder rate is about 25% higher than that of Baghdad. I’m not making up any numbers. The new York Times quoted five murders per day in Baghdad and city populations and crime rates are public record. Maybe you would like to do a little research before accusing me “making up [my] numbers.” Ever use Google?

  15. And now the number of dead per day has fallen even further as the Iraqi Security forces are working with our troops… Sorry, I’m sure this is very difficult for you all to reconcile with your ideology.

    Reuters News Service
    February 16, 2008
    “Attacks in Baghdad Fall 80 Percent: Iraq Military”
    By Aws Qusay

    BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Attacks by insurgents and rival sectarian militias have fallen up to 80 percent in Baghdad and concrete blast walls that divide the capital could soon be removed, a senior Iraqi military official said on Saturday.

    Lieutenant-General Abboud Qanbar said the success of a year-long clampdown named “Operation Imposing Law” had reined in the savage violence between majority Shi’ites and minority Sunni Arabs dominant under Saddam Hussein.

    “In a time when you could hear nothing but explosions, gunfire and the screams of mothers and fathers and sons, and see bodies that were burned and dismembered, the people of Baghdad were awaiting Operation Imposing Law,” Qanbar told reporters.

    Qanbar pointed to the number of dead bodies turning up on the capital’s streets as an indicator of success.

    In the six weeks to the end of 2006, an average of 43 bodies were found dumped in the city each day as fierce sectarian fighting threatened to turn into full-scale civil war.

    That figure fell to four a day in 2008, in the period up to February 12, said Qanbar, who heads the Baghdad security operation.

  16. […] Baghdad’s per capita murder rate being less than Detroit Michigan.  “mdking” writes: JLG, you are manipulating facts to suit your ideology! Just muster the humility for one brief […]

  17. JLG, big fat lying liars like you (who are hung like cocktail franks, according to your mother) make better orators than writers. See, writing can be easily verified; whereas, with speaking, it’s difficult to track down sound bites. You should totally podcast your bullshit sans transcript that way you can get away with the prevaricating.

    Just because you say (or misspell) PER CAPITA a half dozen times after the fact, doesn’t clear you of being full of shit out of the gate.

    Podcast, dude. Do it.

  18. And Dan, I strive to avoid ad hominem, but JLG started it, and he’s obviously a tool (though he is your guest which is why I’m explaining myself).

    To draw an analogy between death in Iraq and death in America belies a deep, agenda-driven, and heartless ideology. And not surprisingly, he accuses the rest of us of being ideologues. That’s how conservatives roll. Take your strength (not ideologues) and brand you as the opposite.

  19. mdking, do you have any kind of facts to debate with or are you just going to call me names? My, that’s really compelling. Here’s my argument, open for anyone to read:

    I’m sorry… I’ll try to spell it out a little more clearly for you in the comments section next time, since you obviously aren’t familiar with research.

  20. Missing the point there JLG, your concentrating on Baghdad, I was talking about the whole country. If that is the extent of the progress, for all of what 30k troops, and the Pentagon can’t send more to secure other areas like stopping Kurdish guerrillas from attacking into Iran and Turkey, then temporary pacification of one area is very limited. For example:

    NAJAF, Iraq, Feb 17, 2008 (AFP) — Radical Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s movement Sunday announced it was cancelling a pact it signed four months ago with its main Shiite rival aimed at reducing tension between the two groups.

    The agreement between the Sadrists and the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) of Abdel Aziz al-Hakim “has failed and is cancelled,” Nassar al-Rubaie, spokesman for the Sadr bloc in parliament, told AFP.

    The two groups, which have clashed repeatedly in the past as each sought control of Iraq’s majority Shiite community, signed a pact last October 6 aimed at ending the violence between their two militias.

    Their attempt at reconciliation was prompted by tensions in the town of Diwaniyah, 180 kilometres (110 miles) south of Baghdad, between the local authorities controlled by the SIIC and Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia.

    Dozens of Sadrists had been rounded up in operations led by the Iraqi security forces supported by US troops following confrontations between the rival militiamen during the second half of 2007.

    Part of the deal was that joint committees be set up with provincial branches to keep order between rival supporters, but according to Rubaie this has not been done.

    “Committees should have been created to resolve security problems in all the provinces,” he said. “But they have not been implemented and this agreement is just a facade. It has not been activated.”

    Competition between the two Shiite factions has often been violent, with a number of officials on either side assassinated.

    At stake is control of local government in Iraq’s mainly Shiite southern provinces which are rich in oil, and in particular in the large town of Basra, the main port for exporting hydrocarbons.


    McClatchy Sunday Newspapers February 17, 2008

    IRBIL, Iraq — Every three months, Munawer Fayeq Rashid goes to the Asayech, an intelligence security agency in Irbil, and hands over his identification. The Shiite Muslim Arab never goes alone. He has to bring a Kurdish sponsor to vouch for him.

    Although Irbil is part of Iraq, Iraqi Arabs who move here or elsewhere in Iraqi Kurdistan have learned that they’re not considered fellow Iraqis.

    “They treat us like foreigners,” Rashid said.

    When he moved to Irbil from Baghdad, worried about the safety of his Kurdish wife and his children, Rashid had to find a Kurd who’d swear that he was a good man. Then Kurdish authorities questioned him intensely before issuing him a residency permit that’s good for only three months. He must carry it with him everywhere.

    “They asked every detail about me,” Rashid said. “‘Where do you live? Who are your relatives? Who were your neighbors in Baghdad?’ But the most nerve-wracking question was: ‘Are you Sunni or Shiite?'”

    Officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government say they have no choice but to vet people who want to move to the country’s northern provinces, where violence has been far less common than it is in other parts of Iraq. If the government weren’t so strict, it would run the risk of letting violent militants into the region, said Esmat Argoshi, the head of security in Irbil.

    “We have to know who they are,” he said. “Kurdistan is part of Iraq, but at the same time we need someone from here to sponsor them, to say, ‘I know this person and I’m going to be responsible.’ …It’s to keep the security situation very strong and stop terrorists from coming to Kurdistan.”


    And please don’t hide behind the soldiers, you have no answered any of my questions. The truth is better than fantasy, the streets of Baghdad are segregated and ethnically cleanse, while U.S. forces still chase after the ghost of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

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