Tuesday, April 11, 2006

 

Underreporting

(Bumped, see update at bottom of post)

Okay, I’m stumped by the underreporting – even among MILBLOGs – of two of the more potentially controversial items on the web in the past two days.

The first, which I posted about yesterday, was Senator John Kerry’s Op-Ed in the New York Times Wednesday, Two Deadlines and an Exit.

Here’s the start of my rebuttal to Kerry from yesterday:

Kerry starts off his ill-informed missive in the Times with an acknowledgement that we are, in fact, at war against terrorists in Iraq. This is in contrast to Democrat talking points for the past several years, and a pleasant surprise. Then again, he also describes the current situation as an “escalating civil war.” Not just a civil war mind you, but an escalating one. Oh my. Evacuate the troops now, John, they actually kill someone every day or so. And it’s getting worse according to Kerry. Maybe it’s just a case of flashbacks. (You know, to the 2004 Campaign.)

How Kerry reaches this conclusion is beyond me, with US and Coalition casualties at their lowest in over a year, lower rates of casualties for Iraqi forces, and even a tapering off on violence relating to efforts to create phony and staged “sectarian violence.” But then, much of what he’s ever said publicly is beyond me. I think it is yet again an example of Kerry’s proclivity to taking the wrong positions at precisely the worst possible moments. (This may be the best sign yet that a break in the political Iraqi logjam is imminent.)

Which leads me to the second, largely un-remarked on item, a remarkable, and perhaps to some, startling collection of casualty data, compiled and posted over at My Election Analysis. The source for this remarkable data? Mudville Gazette and their MILBLOGGER propagandists (to quote a critic)? Some cabal of Neo-conservatives? No, in fact these numbers are from the Brookings Institution.

Here are the relevant data segments, quoted by My Election Analysis:

US Troops killed in hostile action in Iraq, last 6 months, from October 2005 to March 2006, in order: 81, 76, 50, 49, 43, 25.

Iraqi military and police killed in Iraq, last 6 months, from October 2005 to March 2006, in order: 215, 176, 193, 189, 158, 193 (and the three months before that were 304, 282, 233).

Car Bombings, last 6 months, from October 2005 to March 2006, in order: 70, 70, 70, 68, 30, 30.

Civilians killed in Iraq, last 6 months, from October 2005 to March 2006, in order: 527, 826, 532, 732, 950, 446 (upper bound, two months before that were 2489 and 1129).

I fully understand why mainstream media (MSM) might ignore this data, or underplay its significance (thereby to justify ignoring it altogether). But I am at a total loss why supporters of our effort in Iraq, the Administration and its more prominent boosters, and, frankly, the conservative blogosphere are not making with the so-called hay. Are we all that busy beating up on Trent Lott, or piling onto one side or the other of the Immigration skirmish (I’m as yet unheard from on this topic)?

And why are MILBLOGGERS themselves otherwise preoccupied?

I know we have seen what looks like hopeful trends in violence in Iraq, only to see setbacks in a quickly evolving situation. I also know our enemies and the enemies of the emerging Iraqi Government are quite adaptive, and altering their strategies (and even strategic goals) to overcome their operational failures. I know of the machinations of Iran and its vassals in the region, and that the dangers the new Iraqi Democracy face are largely political, but no less a threat to the democracy project.

But still.

I echo the sentiments of the blogger at My Election Analysis:

Again, my point isn’t that we’re winning. My only point is that if the data you’ve received left you completely surprised by these numbers, what does that really say about the completeness of the data you’ve received?

If this war is all about Information Operations (I/O), and I believe it is, then the least we can do is make sure that we don’t lose important IO battles which we can win without shots being fired. Because if we don’t, naysayers like Kerry, and others with political agendas, can continue to distort ground truth. How many Americans believe that things in Iraq are getting worse, when all data indicates the opposite?

(H/T Instapundit, also linked at Mudville Gazette.)



UPDATE: Opinionated Bastard catches up and analyses the recent Brookings Data.

His conclusion:
What I think is happening is that the War in Iraq is entering a new phase. What that phase is exactly is hard to say. The press wants to call it a civil war, but I don't think that's the right term. Perhaps its more along the lines of a general increase in chaos, but without a corresponding increase in deadly force.

In other words, there are an increasing number of deadly actions taking place, but those actions affect fewer people. Instead of 10 attacks killing 20 people, we have 100 attacks killing 1 person. So the number of people killed goes down (only 100 instead of 200), but the attacks seem more widespread.
That seems plausible. I would be the first to admit that statistics only tell part of the story, but media reporting that ignores what statistics ARE available is more interesting in the media "template" for Iraq, and justifying their own partisan posturing.

Let's all start looking at the information available, and reach consensus on what is known, what should be beyond argument, and what falls into the rhetorical no man's land of "open to debate."

UPDATE #2: Blackfive also weighs in, noting some discrepancies in the ubiquitous and unhinged left.

Links: Mudville Gazette, bRight & Early, Outside the Beltway, American Digest, Blue Star Chronicles, JustBarkingMad



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