2005 December 31 Saturday
Iraqi Forces Take Over More Of Baghdad Yet US Death Rates Do Not Drop

Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr. is coming to the end of his year commanding 30,000 US soldiers in Baghdad and Webster claims we are making progress.

Military operations in Baghdad have cut by about half the number of car bombs and roadside bombs, while uncovering nearly double the amount of weapons caches, Webster said. As a result, he said insurgents are resorting more to drive-by shootings and mortar and rocket attacks, which "usually don't hit anybody."

But he acknowledged that U.S. troops are dying in the city at about the same rate as a year ago. "We're working hard to reduce that number," said Webster, commander of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.

Gains against the insurgency in Baghdad have come with what Webster called "tremendous progress" in transferring responsibility to the Iraqi army and police. Over the past year, the number of Iraqi forces in the capital has increased tenfold, and they now have responsibility for 60 percent of the city, he said. Half of the city is controlled by the 6th Iraqi Army Division, and 10 percent by the Iraqi special police, with American support.

Okay, how can the insurgency get crippled while the Iraqi military takes over more than half of Baghdad and yet the death rate of US soldiers hasn't declined?

The insurgents can kill just as many US forces using only half the city? They are managing to do this while only setting off half as many road bombs total? I hear the pronouncements of progress being made and I keep comparing those pronouncements to the death rate. I do not get it.

Update: Iraq's largest refinery has been shut down because delivery truck drivers have been threatened with death if they do not stop delivering.

BAGHDAD, Dec. 29 -- Under a mounting insurgent offensive against Iraq's gasoline supply, the country's largest fuel refinery sat idle Thursday. Gas station owners in surrounding communities in northern Iraq hung up their dry nozzles. A police chief put out a no-patrol order to his men to conserve fuel. And Nouri Ahmed Azaid put off his wedding.

...

Insurgents, apparently hoping to pick a cause popular with Iraqis, launched their offensive on gas stations this month after Iraq raised fuel prices eightfold. The International Monetary Fund mandated the reduction of government gasoline subsidies as a condition for forgiving some of Iraq's multibillion-dollar foreign debt.

The article also reports that the attack rate against foreign contractors has hit a new high.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 December 31 07:08 PM  MidEast Iraq New Regime Failures


Comments
diana said at January 1, 2006 6:47 AM:

They are getting more efficient. More bang for the buck. Great news, not.

Of course, Webster will tell us that things are improving. He is paid to lie. But what about all the people who actually lose by telling these lies to themselves and to us?

Somebody please explain to me the psychology of the Little Green Footballs crowd. They hate Islam and Muslims, they don't think Arabs are capable of democracy...but they support Bush and his crazy plans to bring democracy to Iraq? (I realize that Bush was cornered into that by Sistani, but anyway.)

Now they are even claiming that the results of the election are good. Read "windsofchange.net" and "keshertalk.com."

Somebody please explain these people to me, because I just don't understand them.

Happy new year.

Randall Parker said at January 1, 2006 9:32 AM:

Diana,

You bring up a great question: How can these people who have incredibly low expectations and low opinions of the Arabs support Bush's war to bring democracy to Iraq? Maybe they are really uninterested in bringing democracy to Iraq and just want the US military to become a colonial power ruling over the Arabs as the French and British once did. In their minds that'd protect Israel.

Of course the US isn't going to rule over all the Arabs. The tactics that the US forces would need to adopt would be "Hama Rules": Indiscriminate killing of some members of a group when any other members step out of line. The US mentality is just too individualistic and we grasp to our own moral code too strongly to do that.

The Arabs are simultaneously tribal, low IQ, and Muslim. To expect them to change much (short of genetic engineering) is just plain ridiculous.

Ivan Kirigin said at January 1, 2006 10:50 AM:

The US has yet to lose a battle at the platoon level or higher. As more Iraqi forces are used for security, US forces are on the offensive. When shooting at someone, they usually shoot back.

So you can have fewer Americans running security, fewer IEDs and other such bombs, but more confrontation and equal US soldier death rates.

Let me also repeat myself from a previous post: the point of US presence in Iraq is NOT to minimize US casualties.

Please re-read my first sentence. The only way to lose a war like that is on the home front, where folks think the only story in Iraq is US troops being slaughtered. This blog makes things seem especially hopeless with the defeatist view that entire swaths of people are incongruous with modernity.

Diana,
LGF and the rest hate dictatorships in the ME, and desire an unoppressed arab/muslim populous. It is that simple.

ziel said at January 1, 2006 11:33 AM:

Maybe they ...just want the US military to become a colonial power ruling over the Arabs as the French and British once did. In their minds that'd protect Israel.
Perhaps this explains Perle, but I don't think the lgf crowd generally - I think with them it's loyalty to Bush (as Greg Cochran commented here on another thread). I'm pretty sure they'd have nothing good to say about Iraq if it were Clinton in charge.

Darkwing said at January 1, 2006 11:57 AM:

"Over the past year, the number of Iraqi forces in the capital has increased tenfold, and they now have responsibility for 60 percent of the city,"

Yes, that's because over 80% of the "Iraqi security forces" are either deserters or effective deserters who collect their paychecks and then stay in their stations-- why would they want to die or shed their blood to protect an occupation government?

Ivan Kirigin babbled:
"The US has yet to lose a battle at the platoon level or higher. As more Iraqi forces are used for security, US forces are on the offensive. When shooting at someone, they usually shoot back."

Earth to Ivan, earth to Ivan, yoo-hoo-- anyone home? Ivan, buddy-- we didn't lose a single battle in Vietnam at the platoon level or higher, either, yet at the end of the war we were the ones straggling home, bloodied and in defeat, while the Vietcong was marching into Saigon in 1975. Artificial divisions like "platoon-level or higher battles" don't mean squat on the ground. All that matters is concrete progress, and judging by the frequency and effectiveness of the insurgents' attacks, as well as by the fact that Iraqis are still standing in lines stretching for miles to get gasoline-- in a country with as much oil as Iraq possesses-- shows that things aren't going favorably in Iraq for us.

Diane wrote:
"Somebody please explain to me the psychology of the Little Green Footballs crowd. They hate Islam and Muslims, they don't think Arabs are capable of democracy...but they support Bush and his crazy plans to bring democracy to Iraq? (I realize that Bush was cornered into that by Sistani, but anyway.)

Now they are even claiming that the results of the election are good. Read "windsofchange.net" and "keshertalk.com."

Somebody please explain these people to me, because I just don't understand them."

I used to be a fan of LGF, but I turned away from them when I realized that, at heart, they're little more than party hacks with a single issue. They also haven't thought through their position to a level even a second-grader would be capable of. They oppose Muslim immigration and advocate tougher anti-terrorism measures, as many of us do here, yet then turn around and advocate addle-headed Wilsonian intervention in the region. Woodrow Wilson was by far the worst and most damaging President in US history, yet he still has a following among morons who fantasize about modern Crusades yet are too chicken-s**t to actually go out and do the fighting themselves. Idiots.

The LGFers seem incapable of grasping the notion that if you want the Arabs to stay out of our business and our lives, it's best to stay out of theirs too-- i.e., it's best to advocate a healthy mutual separation so that we can continue with our modern 21st century economy, while the Arabs are free to go out and fight their medieval tribal wars as they see fit. This means both opposing their entry into the US (and stiffening anti-terrorism practices) while at the same time not getting ourselves tied up in Middle Eastern affairs so much. The Europeans are quite adept at grasping the second point, but overall they haven't yet caught onto the first-- they rightly oppose the war but then let in too many radical Muslims into their countries. Italy has the opposite problem of France in this regard-- smart enough to reduce Muslim immigration to Italy overall, but foolish enough to get drawn into the Iraq War and implicate themselves in this mess.

The USA has the worst of both worlds-- we both get involved well beyond any good sense in Iraq and Middle Eastern affairs, while simultaneously bringing in millions of Muslim immigrants, perhaps up to 10 million Muslims in the US today if the various African-American Muslim and quasi-Muslim offshoots are included. (A reduction in immigration levels in general would be a good idea.) Best to do like e.g. Germany, which has stayed out of Iraq, but at the same time is sharply reducing the inflows of Turks and other Muslims across their borders. Again, a healthy separation-- that's the buzzword here.

Ivan Kirigin said at January 1, 2006 12:10 PM:

"we didn't lose a single battle in Vietnam"

50,000 US troops died in Vietnam. We lost plenty of battles (at the very least had Pyrrhic victories) at all levels.

Comparisons this loose are meaningless.

diana said at January 1, 2006 12:24 PM:

"I'm pretty sure they'd have nothing good to say about Iraq if it were Clinton in charge." I think Ziel's right about this, in fact, I think that Randall isolated the hardcore neocon fantasy, and ziel has picked up die fuhrerprinzip of the rest. They are just dummies who would drink sea water if Bush told them to, as I pointed out elsewhere.

Ivan Kirigan appears to be doing a good enough job of arguing with himself, so I'll leave him alone. I would only point out that two years into Vietnam we had lost less than 2,200 soldiers. Records are made to be broken.

Randall Parker said at January 1, 2006 12:35 PM:

Ivan,

I do not see that you've provided an answer. To put it another way: If the Iraqi government forces have taken over half of Baghdad and the insurgents are getting badly hurt by US and Iraqi government forces why then have US casualty rates doubled in the other half of Baghdad?

If Iraqi government forces were not supposedly handling half of Baghdad would US casualty rates be the same as they are now or even higher?

More confrontation? What does that mean?

ziel,

Loyalty to Bush motivated by what? Desire to protect their own self esteem? Desire to give loyalty to someone who pursued their agenda for them?

diana said at January 1, 2006 1:20 PM:

I probably shouldn't get involved in yet another fruitless exchange with a war supporter...but...here goes.

"Diana,
LGF and the rest hate dictatorships in the ME, and desire an unoppressed arab/muslim populous. It is that simple."

Give us a break. That is not what the LGF crowd thinks is remotely possible, but suppose that a workable democracy in an Arab country is possible (a big supposition). Here is who would be in charge. I wrote on my blog:

"Most warbloggers are bright folks whose nimble minds are tricking them into believing the fantastic. Not Pamela. (http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/ "Citizen Journalist, Citizen Soldier."). She's just a dumbass. Anyone who thinks that the Iraqi Christian community is doing well as a result of our invasion is a pure and simple dumbass.

She's not a Dan Darling, or a Joe Katzman (windsofchange.net), whose brains are capable of doing a revolution a minute to justify the transformation of a formerly secular (although horrible) dictatorship into an Islamist theocracy.

Let me give you an example, and I apologize, you'll have to trust my memory because I don't have a link. Before I gave up communicating with the Winds of Change guys, I attempted to engage Dan Darling in a dialogue about the Ayatollah Sistani's attitudes and theology, and what implications for Iraq these would have. It was like talking with a brick wall. I tried my trump card: Israel. Sistani has written some pretty harsh things about Israel, as can be expected from a conservative, Iranian-born top Shiite cleric. You don't get that job by shilling for AIPAC!

If you don't believe me, read this transcript from Radio Liberty:

AL-SISTANI, GOVERNING COUNCIL CONDEMN ASSASSINATION OF HAMAS FOUNDER. Iraqi Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a statement on his website (http://www.najaf.org) on 22 March condemning Israel's assassination of Hamas founder Shaykh Ahmad Yassin as a "repulsive criminal act" and calling on Arab and Muslim people to "consolidate their ranks and unify their word and work diligently to liberate the seized [Palestinian] land and reinstate the stolen

Al-Sistani said Yassin was a scholar and martyr "who dedicated his life to the service of his country and religion and became an icon of patience and resistance."

Meanwhile, Iraqi Governing Council member and head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim told Al-Jazeera on 22 March that Yassin's "martyrdom" "not only affects Iraq but it also affects the Arab and Islamic nation." He added that Yassin's killing "will make us all reconsider our positions with regard to resisting the Zionists. It will also urge us to strengthen our unity, know our enemies, and stand beside the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause." Governing Council members Salah al-Din Muhammad Baha al-Din and Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i also condemned Yassin's assassination in interviews with Al-Jazeera. (Kathleen Ridolfo)"


The same Yassin, upon whose death, Judith of Kesher Talk said (going by memory): "rest in pieces." (Side issue: I cannot, for the life of me, understand the motivations of Judith Weiss. How a hardcore, right-wing Zionist supports a war which has resulted in the creation of a radically anti-Israel country baffles me no end. But I really don't have the stomach to go there right now.)

Sistani also said: "We call upon the sons of the Arab and Islamic nations to close ranks, unite and work hard for the liberation of the usurped land and restore rights. This morning, the occupying Zionist entity committed an ugly crime against the Palestinian people by killing one of their heroes, scholar martyr Ahmed Yassin."

But this quote is from an article by Juan Cole, whose name invites an immediate dismissal from the pro-war side. So I looked hard to get the link to a neutral source, not that it will make a difference.

The point is, the real Ayatollah Sistani is no moderate: he's a hardcore Islamist, albeit a pragmatic one."

So, this war, which has cost thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, will result in putting Sistani's minions and students in positions of LEGITIMATE power.

Anyone who supports this knowing the consequences is a traitor. Anyone who doesn't know the consequences is a dumbass.

Randall Parker said at January 1, 2006 1:48 PM:

Diana is excerpting above from this post on her blog.

Regarding the question of how well or poorly Christians are doing in Iraq see my posts Intellectuals And Christians Flee From Iraq and Christian Churches Bombed In Iraq.

I should do another post about the sorry state of Christians in Iraq. Its been too long since the last post on that topic.

Stephen said at January 1, 2006 6:57 PM:

I've been thinking about arab nationalism. Maybe George is in part right when he says that the events in Iraq will actually have a cathartic effect within the region. In terms of morale, there's bound to be a huge morale building effect across the region when the insurgents successfully irritate the US out of Iraq, and I'm thinking that that morale will cause other insurgencies to go to work against low morale US-aligned governments in the region. So maybe George isn't too far wrong when he thinks that Iraq will be the starting point for a seachange in the region.

Though probably not the seachange he had in mind.

ziel said at January 1, 2006 7:19 PM:

Randall, I was wrong to say "loyalty to Bush" - it's more loyalty to Team Red or Republicanism or "the conservative movement" - it's Us against Them - "Them" being the liberals, the "moonbats". To recognize now that the Iraq war was a big mistake would be to admit that the hated "they" were right, and that would be too difficult to admit. So perhaps it does resolve down to just self esteem. Take Rich Lowry - he must surely know in his heart what an absolute mess Iraq is, and he has no qualms about criticising Bush on any other issue where he veers from conservative principles, which is frequent. But how could Lowry possibly admit that he was so wrong on something so important? Instead he has to continue with the charade of pretending that the tide is going to turn any day now. WFB admitted he was wrong, but Lowry is no Buckley.

Randall Parker said at January 1, 2006 8:54 PM:

Stephen,

I happen to finally be reading The Closed Circle by David Pryce-Jones. Your comment about Arab nationalism reminds me of an earlier era when the withdrawal of colonial powers was supposed to usher in the era of Arab nationalism. It failed to do that. What we got instead was summed up in the title of Philip Glass's book Tribes With Flags.

Pryce-Jones explains some of the reasons for the failure such as tribalism. Of course he makes no mention of genetic differences. But he does an excellent job on other topics. I'm going to do a post soon on something he says on page 19 if you happen to have the book. I'm going to be commenting on the book in other posts as I read it in coming weeks (and probably months at the rate I'll get thru it).

I'm amazed at just how ahistorical the neocons are about the Arabs. The idea that the Arabs have been held back from democratization by corrupt and venal elites really misses the basic fact that over 20 Arab nations all produced very similar governments and Arab Thomas Paines and Paul Reveres did not rise up to overthrow their leaders.

diana said at January 1, 2006 8:56 PM:

Stephen,

I wouldn't worry about it. After the Israelis quit Gaza, American Jews and a few others kicked in money to buy the greenhouses built by settlers. These were then transferred to the Palestinians, who proceeded to wreck, trash and gut them. Much as I would wish to say otherwise, Pal. Muslims are hopeless; they go round and round in circles...their politics are a shambles...they build nothing, learn nothing...except the Christians, who ran the place under the British and who had beautiful homes and villages.

Invisible Scientist said at January 2, 2006 9:36 PM:

It appears that the continually enhanced Improvised Explosive Devices that the guerillas are using, are one step ahead of the armor improvements that are being made for the Humvees and Armored Personnel Carriers. Apparently, it is cheaper to make an effective enough armor piercing bomb than the actual armored vehicle itself. This is the main reason there are a lot of US casualties, but if it is true that the 25 % minority Sunnis who were the former rulers of Iraq, and they are absolutely terrified of becoming second class citizens in a Shiite majority who might do unto them what they did unto the Shiites. This is understandable, but at the same time, if the United States leaves Iraq, then the fate of the Sunnis would precisely be what they fear most. And hence the Sunnis actually have something to gain by keeping the Americans in Iraq. What if the US declared victory and left Iraq? After all, the oil production has not increased at all after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Basically, if the US leaves, then BOTH Iran and the Shiites would settle the scores with the Sunnis.


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