Al Quaeda hit their target. The death toll in Iraq for the month was 1773 (mostly civilian as they are the easiest to kill). This will be good news for the left as it will make for some beautiful Bush bashing material. It might even be enough to finally to provoke the US into surrendering.
Interestingly, Al Qaeada had to resort to detonating WMDs in Yazidi communities to make their death target. It is ironic that a war started over the threat of WMDs would be lost because the WMDs are finally in play.
The 1773 casualties is horrible and unacceptable. The numbers, however, aren't really that outlandlish. This Report tells us to expect around 500 driving fatalities this Labor Day Weekend, and 3500 in September.
When you look at the history of thuggery and war, the fact that Al Qaeda has been able to effectively destroy the US with so few murders stands out as amazing.
The fact that so many Americans are hip on handing a nation over to its most brutal thugs simply because those brutal thugs were able to hit a death quota for August is quite absurd. Albeit, the opening for this absurdity was created because GW Bush cut corners on diplomatic efforts so that he could finish his daddy's war.
Bush really put us in an absurd and chaotic situation.
Absurdity and chaos are part of life.
I hope that the left is wise enough to realize that emphasizing the death toll plays into the hands of the worst elements of society. It is absurd for us to deliver a country into the hands of Al Qaeda or Iran simply because they are willing to kill large numbers of civilians.
The fact that the terrorists reached their death quota for August should not be a rallying cry of the left. For that matter, I believe that if the left plays up the death toll at this point in the debate, they will drive people back to the radical right.
I've been in a state of dispair since the day that Bush decided to invade Iraq. He had won the diplomatic effort. Diplomatic wins are so scarce that they should not be squandered. The troop surge worked put us into a place where we really can talk about the future of Iraq. The American public has realized that Bush style militarism is a recipe for disaster. I hope that the upcoming debate moves beyond the current left/right political squabbling about how to best capitalize on defeat, and turns the pressing issue of what is best for the Iraqis.
Both the US and Iraqi governments are broken at the moment.
Just as our nations is focussed on the 2008 elections, I think the best hope for Iraq is to get the country focussed on their January 2009 elections. Perhaps the best approach from this point is to commit to providing security through the 2009 elections with a complete troop withdrawl planned after the inauguration of the next Iraqi government.
It is a scary time. We saw Yazidi villages wiped out with the first WMD attack since 9/11. If the shrill left/right debate continues to dominate discourse about the region we probably will start seeing an escalation in the WMD usage the war was supposed to prevent.
You could look at that same article a different way. If after the "surge" has been given "time to work", we still have a constant rise in civilian deaths, we can conclude that the surge is failing - at least it's failing the Iraqi people and they are the only important constituency.
Al Qaeda is barely mentioned in that article so it is hardly reasonable to conclude that they "hit their target". Reliable sources (the US military) put Al Qaeda at less than 5% of the forces fighting against the US occupation.
WMD were not mentioned in this report, so your assertion that Al Qaeda detonated WMD's is simply wrong.
No honest look at the death toll in Iraq can fail to acknowledge that had the US not invaded without provocation and in violation of international law, these people would still be alive. The best way to insure that fewer people die is to remove the provocation of alien military occupation forces.
Sorry, but no matter how you look at it, the death quota is not a good metric for judging the success or failure of any policy.
The problem, of course, is that the terrorists are aware of the metric. This is the one number that they can control.
Anyone familiar with statistics or with human nature know that can and will manipulate things under their control. The Terrorist know that September is the month in which we will debate the surge and they have to make the surge a failure. The death toll has to be an increase over July.
It is not surprising that, when the month is near complete and they are short of their quota that they set off a bomb designed to wipe out a village.
A bomb designed to wipe out a village is a WMD, especially when said bomb is used to wipe out a village.
This was one of the biggest concern I had about the troop surge is that it compelled the terrorist to kill people simply to have a high death count. Terrorists are, by definition, people willing to commit atrocities to get into power. Even just 50 terrorists committed to killing 2k people in a month could hit the goal.
The death quota is a bad and meaningless statistic that should be ignored. A large number of people know this. Anyone on the left who pushes the death toll as proof of the failure of the troop surge is simply going to magnify division at home.
There may be other reasons to argue the troop surge is a failure. This is just a very bad metric.
I agree, so what defines failure in Iraq - or more to the point, how would one define success? While we're at it, let's admit the semantic gamesmanship here. Labeling the forces opposed to the US occupation of Iraq as "terrorists" or "Al Qaeda" or for that matter "freedom fighters" obscures the complexity of the chaos that is Iraq today.
IMHO, success in Iraq is a term to be defined by the Iraqis themselves not by Americans. I doubt many Iraqis view the horrors of the last 17 years and particularly the last 4 1/2 years as a success. I am sure that most Iraqis, like most people everywhere, would just like to live their lives free of violence and go about their normal business. The United States government has deprived them of those simple basics of life for 17 years and it hardly seems plausible to look to the United States for success.
Failure? It is simply not possible in any honest and realistic sense to succeed in a criminal undertaking. From the Iraqi point of view, it is difficult to imagine how the death and destruction caused by the United States since 1990 could be described as anything but a failure.
Please refrain from trotting out the old "would you prefer Saddam" canard. At least Saddam was an Iraqi failure, not an American one. He was an evil dictator and there was no political freedom in Iraq, but neither was there constant violence. The horrors visited on Iraq since March 2003 would never have happened under Saddam's strongarm rule and there is only one place to blame for those deaths and the destruction of that nation - 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC USA.
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