Measuring Success in Iraq
Posted Mar 14, 2005 |
handed over control of Iraq to their interim
government last June, our media outlets started
shifting news in Iraq to the back burner. When the
November election promised to heat things up again,
the Bush administration began to paint the rosiest
possible picture. The problem, of course, was that
there was no data to back up such an optimistic
year, at the end of January, millions of Iraqis
turned out to vote in their first democratic
election since God knows when. While a
positive milestone to be sure, this election was
only one small step on a road that nobody is quite
sure we'll see the end of. In the meantime, there is
one statistic that gets underreported day after
day--the fact that U.S. deaths in Iraq have been
going up constantly since day one.
1, 2003, President Bush
announced on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln
that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended"
and that "the battle of Iraq is one victory in a war
on terror that [...] still goes on." In fact, major
combat operations did not stop.
Ironically, despite months (and
perhaps years) of planning for the Iraqi
advice about necessary troop strength, from
people like Army General Eric Shinseki, was ignored.
Thus, we faced a dangerous security problem In Iraq
from day one. Looters, insurgents, and just about
anyone with a gun posed a threat to our presence
there. Of course, rather than admit this oversight
and deal with the threat, President Bush decided to
ignore the problem entirely.
2, 2003, two months after his famous "Mission
Accomplished" speech, Bush responded to the growing
insurgency problem in Iraq by instead challenging
our opponents with the taunt "bring
them on." He even went so far as to say that,
"we've got the force necessary to deal with the
security situation." The fact is that we didn't
have the necessary force and that the insurgents did
indeed continue to "bring it on."
December 13, 2003, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was
finally captured. Dazed and confused with
$750,000 in U.S. currency, Hussein was pulled out of
a "spider hole" behind a farm outside of Tikrit.
Trumpeting this good news while completely ignoring
how incongruous this all sounded, our national news
media again acted as if things in Iraq were about to
turn the corner. They didn't.
the most buried (actually, left out to rot) of all
the deadly stories to come out of Iraq was our
failure to secure a known weapons depot at
Qa'qaa when we invaded in March, 2003. When 340
tons of highly dangerous HMX, RDX, and PETN
explosives were eventually looted from the facility,
the Bush administration again denied all
responsibility. In fact, the Bush launched an
extensive misdirection campaign that used everything
from "it wasn't our fault" to "it wasn't that bad."
Bush apologists tried to assert how
unlikely it was that the looted high explosives
would turn up in the improvised explosive devices (IEDs)
being used to kill our troops, they were silent when
these "roadside bombs" eventually killed 9 U.S.
troops by destroying or disabling both a
Bradley Fighting Vehicle and an
M1A2 Abrams tank--the most potent and
heavily-armored tank in the world.
the only measure of our success (or failure) in Iraq
right now is simply the number of U.S. lives that
have been sacrificed in our efforts there. Most
Americans seem to care little about the
Iraqi civilians that have been killed since we
invaded the country, so I'll stick with just
American fatalities. The graph below shows just how
little things have changed since the invasion began.
I only pray that our efforts there will someday
produce a better metric.