Monday, May 11, 2009
# Posted 7:11 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
WALLACE: There is also growing violence in Iraq, amid signs that the Iraqi government is dropping some of the counterinsurgency tactics that you introduced into Iraq. Jobs programs in Sunni areas are — are being ended. The Sunni "Awakening" — these are Sunni forces that are fighting Sunni insurgents — some of those units have not been paid for most of this year.I think Gen. Petraeus is right to focus on the overall number of attacks the insurgents are able to launch. That is the best indicator of whether the insurgency is gaining strength as a military and political force. And that number has remained stable.
At the same time, high-casualty suicide attacks create a perception of insecurity far out of proportion to the damage they cause. One might say that April was an especially bloody month in Iraq, with twice as many civilian fatalities as in January or February. On the other hand, the remarkably low casualty levels in January and February may just have been just a winter lull, since that's when the insurgents tend to be least active. Compared to any of the last six months of 2008, April was pretty typical in terms of violence.
The insurgents have made America pay attention recently with headline-grabbing attacks. As both sides know, "If it bleeds, it leads." If the insurgents continue to commit atrocities at that pace, it will represent a significant failure in terms of security. But explosions and headlines are at best a lagging indicator of the political changes that really matter. My best guess is that Gen. Petraeus is telling the President the same thing.
Cross-posted at Conventional Folly (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
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