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Monday, November 19, 2007


The soft bigotry of low expectations

Attacks are down in Iraq! You'll be hearing it over and over. Only (!!!!) 575 attacks occurred last week! And in June there was one week when the number of attacks was 1600, so that's a huge drop. By the way, that week in June, do you remember reading about 1600 attacks in one week? I must have missed it myself. Is 575 really a low number indicating "success" is just around the corner (if not already here)? Well, remember the event that "changed everything"? No, not 9-11, the attack on the Golden Dome of Samarra. Well, that week back in Feb. 2006 there were 700 attacks. Given what I expect is a week-to-week variance, just about the same as this week.

But the most interesting thing of all in the reports is the part you haven't really heard about at all: "The data released Sunday cover attacks using car bombs, roadside bombs, mines, mortars, rockets, surface-to-air missiles and small arms." Although in principle we're told that "the attacks were directed against American and Iraqi forces, as well as civilians," looking at the list of types of attacks, it seems highly likely, as we've known all along, that the majority of attacks are against American and Iraqi forces, not against civilians. You might attack civilians with car bombs, but you don't attack them with roadside bombs, mines, mortars, rockets, surface-to-air missiles, or even in general small arms. No, it is the presence of "foreign forces" - American forces - that are the principal source of violence in Iraq, just as they have been since the day they invaded. But you won't be hearing that analysis from any of the "pundits," who will all be too busy trumpeting the success of the "surge" to notice.

Nor do we read about virtually any of these attacks in the media, either, which cover almost exclusively attacks on Iraqi civilians. But astute observers (such as your humble blogger) have known all along of these other attacks. How? Because daily we read in the paper, in the one-sentence summary of the day's carnage, of "a soldier killed in a firefight in such-and-such a town." Yet there rarely is a report of that firefight itself, and never a report of the firefights which only resulted in injured Americans (or even dead Iraqi soldiers). It used to be commonplace for war supporters to complain about how the "good news" from Iraq wasn't being reported. The truth of the matter is, it's the bad news which is largely unreported. Only the "worst" of the bad news, the deaths of American soldiers or the car-bombings which kill a dozen Iraqis or more, make the news. The rest? Make room for Britney!

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