Saturday, April 29, 2006

Another Bit of Wishful Thinking

In a recent post, Penraker made this claim:

The war is not going badly. There was a bold provocation when the Golden Mosque was blown up. But despite the media's urgings, no civil war started. The Iraqis selected their prime minister today. The Iraqi army held off the surge of violence after the bombing of the mosque. They are learning every day, and getting better every day. Our casualties are on a downward trend. (The insurgents are making a special effort this month to kill Americans, since the number of killed shrank to 31 last month. So this months casualties will be higher. (They respond like clockwork to those sorts of things. Report that Fallujah is secure, and peaceful, a week later several bombs go off there. That sort of thing)

This is something that we often hear, that the insurgents are only responding to the media and are just increasing the violence to get media attention. The implication is that the insurgents are running out of steam, and that this is one last big push using all of the strength they have. Presumably, if they are putting on a special effort to kill coalition soldiers in order to distract from the downward fatality trend, then the downward trend should re-assert itself by next month.

In reality, though, a quick perusal of the statistics will show that other than enormous spikes such as those in November 2003, April 2004, and November 2004, which were followed by much lower (but still high) death counts. Whenever really large drops occurred (May 2003, February 2004, February-April 2005) they soon picked up again and stayed there for several months. There is no reason to assume that the recent death count increase will be any more ephemeral than the others.

It is just wishful thinking.

That is all.

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