Friday, August 3, 2007

Comment is free: The wrong kind of surge

Comment is free: The wrong kind of surge:
Despite escalating evidence to the contrary, the Bush administration continues to support the military surge in Iraq.

The 74 US military deaths reported in July (since revised upwards to 78) were indeed the lowest since November. According to a high-ranking commander quoted by the New York Times, this is a "positive sign". Viewed in another way, though, the figure is alarming. As Juan Cole, the blogging professor from Michigan University, points out, a decrease in July would be normal:

"July is like a blast furnace in Iraq, with temperatures approaching 120 degrees F in the shade. Guerrillas typically lie low in this unfavourable environment, compared to other seasons, and so the casualty rates go down. Instead, this year the killing season has gone on as if it were spring." In fact, last month was the deadliest July for American troops since the war began. The July figures for previous years range between 43 and 54, so - behind the spin - this year has seen a big increase.

The aim of the surge is to take control of troublesome areas and deliver security. So if the surge was really working we ought to be seeing the start of a downward trend in civilian casualties - but unfortunately not.

According to the Iraqi government, civilian deaths totalled 1,652 in July - up by a third compared with June. And with attacks on coalition and Iraqi forces, civilians and infrastructure averaging of 177.8 per day. June itself was the worst month for attacks since President Bush declared "mission accomplished" in 2003.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cutting Costs, Bending Rules, And a Trail of Broken Lives -

Cutting Costs, Bending Rules, And a Trail of Broken Lives -

We have been discussing contracters and here is another example of why holding organizations accountable is important. That part of public business seems to have dropped off the edge of the earth.