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News Petraeus: US Surge Goals Being Met

  1. Sep 11, 2007 #1
    Full quote:
    NY Times article

    ABC article, with the Petraeus slides

    On the other hand (from ABC article):

    Rep. Tom Lantos:
    What conclusion is to be drawn from this? Are these figures indicative of progress in Iraq? Or has Petraeus "cooked the books" as some have suggested?

    My analysis:

    Slide 3: I do not see any manipulation of data here. All the bars seem to represent 21 day periods, and there are enough data points to suggest an overall decline in violence.

    Slide 4: Inconclusive. There was a marked decrease in civilian casualties prior to the surge.

    Slide 7: Few data points, but suggest a decrease in IEDs since the start of the surge.

    Slide 8: Again, inconclusive. Anbar attacks had already begun a downward trend prior to the surge.

    Slide 9: I can't read any effect of the surge here.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2007 #2


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    Well, I can appreciate Lantos's skepticism after being told for 4 years that the US was being successful in Iraq, when all the while the insurgency was developing.

    Hopefully Petraeus is being straightforward, which he seems to be.

    At least the levels of violence are down, rather than up, but it is premature to tell if this is an interim/temporary situation. Insurgent activities wax and wane.
  4. Sep 11, 2007 #3


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    I mostly agree...with the following additional comments.
    It shows an overall decline in "attacks." "Violence" is defined in the bottom of slide 8.

    The arrows that have been superimposed on the data are nothing if not misleading. I could just as easily draw oppositely trending arrows for Ninewah, and they would be mathematically as irrelevant as the ones drawn in the slide! This is totally cheap, dishonest, and downright insulting! :yuck:

    Here's what you could get when you play the arrow game with sectarian deaths in Iraq:
  5. Sep 14, 2007 #4
    Have you see the ad by Move-On?

    Violence is down only if you accept the redefinition which excludes sectarian violence (civil war), civilians killed by car bombs and getting shot in the face. Some weird math, but what ever works for you.

  6. Sep 14, 2007 #5
    The people at moveon.org seem just as radical as those we are fighting.
  7. Sep 14, 2007 #6
    Worse even. They do not care whether they are right or wrong. They are simply anti Republican. US partican politics has no place in Iraq.
  8. Sep 14, 2007 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    That's what happens when you disenfranchise 30% of the country with 7 years of lies and abuses of power.
  9. Sep 14, 2007 #8


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    Moveon is certainly a partisan organization.

    That goes both ways or to both sides of the aisle. Bush's teams in Iraq (including the CPA under Bremer) basically excluded anyone, even more qualified people, in favor of those who supported or agreed with Bush and his allies.

    Certainly many are expected to be cynical of Bush and his administration, and rightfully so given recent history and the unnecessary disaster the Iraq quickly became and still is.

    I would like to see an honest assessment of the situation. But is that possible?

    I would like to hear from Petraeus regarding the numbers and what was left out, and why.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2007
  10. Sep 14, 2007 #9


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    What is discouraging about this is that as neighborhoods get purged of members of sects who are in the minority, the level of violence should go down, since there are fewer people to target. Instead, our administration has to resort to cherry-picking data (excluding killings by method, for instance) to paint even the very bleak picture they presented this week. The Surge is not working. It's going to be really tough to make anything work in the region, but the number one tactic should be to ask all regional players to help forge a political/social situation in which the warring factions in Iraq can be assured first that they are not going to be wiped out by militias, and second, that even if they have minority status, they will not be subject to mob rule by the majority. When I say regional players, I mean ALL of the countries bordering Iraq, including the ones that Bush refuses to talk to. They all have a vested interest in living next to a stable, productive trading partner, instead of having to worry about the violence spreading region-wide.
  11. Sep 14, 2007 #10


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    What? Moveon is worse that al Qaeda, suicide bombers and mass execution squads? Really? And how about an argument to support that? And how is any of this relevant to the thread? Come on, folks...let's not lose perspective. Besides, what is so radical about stating the obvious - it's clear that Petraeus has dressed the data to give the administration's stand more credibility.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2007
  12. Sep 14, 2007 #11
    It does seem strange to exclude car bombs and to categorize based upon bullet wounds to the front/back of the head. The latter case may actually make sense, though, as the prevalence of execution-style sectarian killings could mean that the majority of bodies found with bullet wounds to the back of the head are indeed sectarian-related. That isn't to say, however, that a frontal gunshot wound couldn't have also come from sectarian violence (gunfights and the like).

    Krugman's "Time to Take a Stand" article (referenced in the MoveOn quote) mentions how the daily average of civilian deaths is "almost twice its average pace from last year." One can actually use Petraeus's own slide (#4) to make that argument. The average rate of civilian deaths for 2007 is at least slightly higher than that of 2006, due largely to the fact that civilian deaths started low (relative to the graph) and ended high in 2006. The data for 2007 have been weighted upwards by that high starting point. Consider how when a man climbs a ladder, his average height during the entire ascent will surely be lower than that of the first three quarters of his descent. Now, I am not using the ladder analogy to predict future changes in Iraq, but I believe that from a statistical perspective, it shows how Krugman is saying that 2006 (during which the death rate increased) was better than 2007 (during which the death rate has decreased).

    Krugman also states that "a recent assessment by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found no decline in the average number of daily attacks." This is presumably a reference to the same report quoted in Karen DeYoung's "Experts Doubt Drop in Violence in Iraq" (the other article in the MoveOn quote). DeYoung quotes the GAO report as having found that "[the] average number of daily attacks against civilians [has] remained unchanged from February to July 2007." Slide 3 of Petraeus's briefing is actually in concurrence with this as well. One can see that from February to July 2007, there are small fluctuations, but no downward trend. According to DeYoung, the military thinks the GAO's conclusion is skewed "because it did not include dramatic, up-to-date information from August." Indeed, once the data for August are added, there is the suggestion of a downward trend.

    The impression I received from DeYoung's article is that the various government agencies and departments can't agree on any one method for statistics regarding Iraq, and that numerous conflicting reports are issued as a result.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2007
  13. Sep 14, 2007 #12


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    One very bad facet of the sectarian violence in Iraq is that many well-educated, professional, or simply well-to-do people have bailed out, leaving the country in the hands of politicians and zealots motivated by the opportunity to cement gains for their sects or accumulate personal power and wealth. These refugees will not return until they can be assured of the safety of their families and themselves, depriving Iraq of skilled engineers, physicians, professors, etc. There is a whole lot more damage being done to Iraq than can be described with a Viet-Nam-like "body count" and Petraeus knows this, though he will never buck the Bush administration by mentioning it. When you strip the professionals and academics out of a country, the remaining inhabitants suffer immensely.
  14. Sep 14, 2007 #13
    We seem to be in a two steps forward and one step back mode. The Sheik who was leading the Sunni's against al qaida was assinated yesterday.


    The sheik shown in the link was shaking Bush's hand just a week ago.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2007
  15. Sep 14, 2007 #14


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    I don't know if this was ever mentioned by Petraeus or Crocker in the Senate hearing, but a major reason for any declines in sectarian violence in some regions is the escalated segregation that has resulted from the violence (largely following events like the Samarra bombing). Vast numbers of Sunnis have fled Shia "dominated" (this need not be numerical domination; political power is very important) areas since February, giving the Shiite death squads fewer targets to take out. Baghdad has morphed from 65% Sunni to 75% Shia.


    And then there's this:

    Not to belabor the point, but in fact...

    How can you be climbing down the ladder if you find yourself on a higher rung than you've ever been on before you started the "descent"?

    Also, the results in al Anbar are mostly unrelated to the surge and almost a direct result of al Qaeda pissing off the local militias to the extent that they decided to make a peace deal with the US. Now the US military really has a great opportunity to actually win over hearts of the locals there - currently a difficult task in most other (non-Kurdish) parts of Iraq.
  16. Sep 14, 2007 #15
    Bush need to get more people in there like Petraeus---like an Octavius, and maybe a Quintus, or a Latavius--or an Augustus, or two.
  17. Sep 14, 2007 #16
    For the past ten days or so I've been getting in my e-mail as a heads up (from the Democratic party) notices that funny math is being used in the Petraeus report. Each e-mail was supported with links to articles in the NY Times, LA Times and other papers. Perhaps it was lazy of me just to reference Move-On, which is using many of the same references. Move-On is not the bad guy just because they give you facts others choose to leave out. If the truth is a bias, then we are all in a heap of trouble.

    Don't kill the messenger because you don't like the message!

    Regarding what can be done about the mess over there, I wrote this elsewhere...........

    Yes, I quote myself, I have no shame............retyping the same stuff over gives me no joy.
  18. Sep 14, 2007 #17
    There has to be some effective and lasting strategy involved in winning over the hearts of the locals, especially in light of the fact that they hate us.

    In Vietnam, where the populace didn't necessarily hate us, we resorted to assassinating local leaders and blaming the VC.

    Hopefully we learned a lesson in Southeast Asia and won't be doing stupid things like that in Iraq.:rolleyes:
  19. Sep 15, 2007 #18


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    I don't think there's going to be any of that in Anbar. There's a real opportunity to make good progress starting from there...and I sure hope someone's working their ass off trying to figure out the best way to make this work.
  20. Sep 15, 2007 #19
    Bush has effectively destroyed the party base. We are leaving in droves. I wouldn't attribute moveon's fanaticism to that though since they were formed during the Clinton years
  21. Sep 15, 2007 #20
    Oh I agree totally. I also find it interesting that the only success we have had is when we work with local leaders. We tried to institute a strong central government. Wrong approach both there and here. The powers that be have no desire to recognize that though.
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