Wednesday, May 16, 2007

GAO Report: Surge Has Done Nothing To Stem Violence In Iraq

We keep hearing about how we have to give the surge time to work in Iraq, but today the General Accounting Office released a report from statistics compiled by the Pentagon that shows the additional troops are having minimal effect on the violence in the country:

Newly declassified data show that as additional American troops began streaming into Iraq in March and April, the number of attacks on civilians and security forces there stayed relatively steady or at most declined slightly, in the clearest indication yet that the troop increase could take months to have a widespread impact on security.

Even the suggestion of a slight decline could be misleading, since the figures are purely a measure of how many attacks have taken place, not the death toll of each one. American commanders have conceded that since the start of the troop increase, which the United States calls a “surge,” attacks in the form of car bombs with their high death tolls have risen.

The daily attack figures for March and April were 157 and 149 - down from a high of 176 attacks a day in October 2006, but much higher than the 71 attacks a day that were occurring in January 2006. Also, casualty rates are not given for the attacks, so while the numbers of attacks is done slightly, the number of casualties in those attacks has not been released by either the Iraqi government or the U.S. military. Since death squad killings are down since the beginning of the surge but deadlier car bomb attacks are up, it is possible that daily attacks rates are "down" while casualty rates are "up" (and the fact that the Iraqis and the Bush administration have stopped releasing casualty rates suggests that may be exactly the case.)

The GAO report
goes on to say that the attacks upon the infrastructure of the country have been "devastating":

“Insurgents have destroyed key oil and electricity infrastructure, threatened workers, compromised the transport of materials, and hindered project completion and repairs by preventing access to work sites,” the report says.

In addition, it says, the looting and vandalism that American and Iraqi officials have vowed to stop has continued to destroy infrastructure that billions of dollars in American and Iraqi money have refurbished.

The report also contains the analysis of what appears to be billions of dollars of oil that is unaccounted for over the past four years. The report says smuggling, sabotage or colossal accounting errors could potentially account for the discrepancy.

So there you have it - a minimal decrease in daily attacks, an unknown number of casualties from these attacks, and an infrastructure that continues to be "devastated" by attacks, looting, and vandalism.

POSTSCRIPT: Another deadly day in Iraq despite the surge:

BAGHDAD (AP) -- A parked car bomb exploded near a market in a Shiite enclave northeast of the capital, killing at least 32 people and wounding 50, police said Wednesday. Hospital officials and wounded victims said chlorine gas may have been used in the attack, but police denied that.

Thousands of U.S. forces continued to search for three American soldiers feared captured by al-Qaida last week after an attack on their convoy south of Baghdad also killed four U.S. troops and an Iraqi soldier.

Meanwhile, clashes broke out in the mostly Shiite city of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq on Wednesday, when a militia fought with police there after they arrested two wanted militia members, police said. Nine Iraqis were killed and 75 wounded, a police spokesman said.

The sham of all this is that everybody with any sense knows that adding 30,000-40,000 more troops into the country wasn't going to do diddly to change security conditions on the ground. While Repubs and Holy Joe Lieberman keep saying "We have to give our new Iraq policy a chance to work," evidence is mounting that the number of surge troops added to Iraq came too little, too late to do anything permanently meaningful.

If the Repubs and Holy Joe Lieberman REALLY want to affect change in Iraq, they need to rally the country behind a 10 year/350,000 additional troop plan to help bring political stability and security to Iraq.

But since they know that's a no-go with the American public, instead we platitudes from them about a surge plan everybody knows is doomed to failure.

And the shame of it is Americans are dying so that politicians can save face before the inevitable defeat and retreat" out of there.

Most Americans don't want us there. The Iraqis don't want us there. So why are we still there? Because the little man in the White House is a sociopath who doesn't care how many troopers get killed and maimed. The important thing is that he not be forced to face reality and admit he made a massive mistake.

He lied to get us into this mess, and I think it was so he could boast that he is a "war president," strutting around as Commander in Chief, playing fighter pilot dress-up on the deck of the USS Lincoln, surrounding himself with troopers, and all the rest. He's using the military to prop up his political ambitions. That is why American soldiers and Marines are dying in Iraq.
I agree w/ everything you say, newsguy.
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