Sunday, October 30, 2005

Winning the War on Terror

First of all, it must be acknowledge that Iraq is only part of the "war" on terror because Bush and Blair decided that it should be. Iraq before the invasion was not a hotbed of terrorism and there has never been a single piece of credible evidence to even suggest that Saddam was colluding with Al-Qaeda (to my knowledge anyway). Today, Iraq is a hotbed of terrorism and those two men are almost exclusively to blame for creating the situation which allowed this to happen. Arrogance and incompetance have been driving our foreign policy and it has driven us into a very deep hole.*

The US military, after insisting for more than two years that it kept no records of Iraqi casualties, has released casualty figures for Iraqi civilians from January 2004 up until September 2005. The NYT seems to have broken the story after finding the figures buried in a report to Congress entitled "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq", a report delivered on 13th October.** The figures are available on page 23 of this PQF of the report. I've taken the liberty of taking a screen grab of the graph for those with an aversion to PDF's. Click here to view (updated as the image didn't fit into the post properly).

The figures refer to the total of both killed and wounded coalition (blue) and Iraqi (green) casualties. They are far from complete as the US military has confirmed in response to questions put by the NYT :
"These incident reports are not intended to provide - and do not provide - a comprehensive account of Iraqi casualties," Colonel Venable said in his e-mail message. The information in the reports shows "trends in casualties resulting from insurgent attacks."
That would explain why the figures are significantly lower than all other available esimates. And the figures do not include civilians killed or wounded by the "coalition" but only by insurgents. So this is undoubtedly an incomplete picture of the true cost of the war.

Nevertheless, if we take Colonel Venable's advice and use these figures to look for "trends in casualties resulting from insurgent attacks", what conclusions can be drawn? Casualties suffered by the coalition have levelled off at around 18 per day. This has been stable for the last 10 months or so and is lower than the higher rate of 26 per day experienced from April - November '04. That's not totally bad news but it's not really good news either. The figures for Iraqi casualties tell a much grimmer picture. Iraqi casualty rates have risen steadily since January 2004 (with one blip), going from 26 per day then to 63 per day now. According to the US military's own figures, the insurgency is causing more than twice as many Iraqi casualties now as it did in January 2004. And if you add the two columns together for each period, you'll see that total casualty rates are also steadily increasing.

The. Strategy. Is. Not. Working.

How much more evidence will it take to convince these people that they're on the wrong path? Pardon me but what in the name of fuck is wrong with these fucking idiots? People are dying every day, lots of people. "We must complete the mission"? Fuck off, your mission's been a fatal disaster from start to finish (exceptfor the fact that it shows no signs of ever having a finish as such).

And it is important not to forget that each of these numbers represents a real person with their own family and their own friends and their own favourite TV programmes and their own hopes and dreams for the future. Each of these statistics represents a real person dead or injured. The limbs of real people are being blown off, the skin of real people is being burned off their bones. Families are being torn apart. These things are happening in Iraq every day. The situation is desperate and it's getting worse by the week. Something has to be done.

This situation has been created by Bush and Blair. They chose to launch this war and they chose to ignore the warnings that the situation we currently face would be the most probable outcome. They are not doing the killing but they have created the environment in which it prospers, as they were warned they would. For that, and for the incompetance which has beset the occupation and which has made the situation even worse than it would otherwise be, history will be the final judge. What is certain now is that they cannot resolve the problems they have caused. New leaders, competant intelligent ones, are required like never before.

* As was noted by Max Hastings recently.

** Possibly the most Orwellian title for a report that I've ever has the misfortune to encounter.

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