Washington - US troop losses in Iraq have plummeted in the past few months to levels not seen since early 2006 – an encouraging sign, say analysts and defense officials, that the US strategy is working, at least for now.
The Pentagon reported 23 service members killed in combat this month as of Tuesday, noting that insurgent and other attacks have plunged in violence-prone places like Baghdad. As recently as May, as the Pentagon completed its "surge" of about 30,000 additional US forces and began military operations in more dangerous areas of Iraq, US combat deaths were five times as high, with 120 killed. This month, by contrast, the casualty rate is on par with that of March 2006, when 27 service members were killed. Since the beginning of the war, only a few months have seen fewer fatalities than this month, including February 2004, arguably the predawn of the insurgency in Iraq, when 12 US service members were killed.
A reason for excitement? Well, at some point in 2008 the US military is going to need to lower US troop levels because the US military isn't big enough to sustain the current level of deployment. When US troop levels get back down to 100,000 will the insurgents just come back out of temporary retirement and start shooting up the place again? Could be.
The fundamental conflict between the 3 major ethnic groups in Iraq remains. The Sunnis still do not want to submit to rule by the Shias and the Sunnis want a share of the oil revenue. At the same time, the Kurds effectively have achieved autonomy. If the Shia areas ever become calm will the Shias then turn their attention to bringing the Kurds under control of the Shia-dominated Baghdad government?
What I wonder: Has the violence gone down due to consolidation of power within each of the 3 major ethnic groups? Is there less fighting within each ethnic group? That certainly seems to be the case with the Sunnis. Also, is the ethnic cleansing advancing far enough that fewer Sunnis and Shias are within range of the opposing ethnic group? Are we seeing the result of effective partition and then consolidation of power within each ethnic enclave? If that is the case then we aren't exactly witnessing victory of liberal democracy.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2007 October 30 10:47 PM MidEast Iraq Military Needs|