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Monday, November 7, 2005

Perverse Measure of Success, Part 2

Posted by on November 7 at 15:32 PM

The AP reports that four soldiers died in a suicide bombing today south of Baghdad. The opening paragraph of the story, by the A.P. writer Robert H. Reid, pretty much captures the spirit of what has become, in my mind, The Groundhog’s Day War.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — A suicide bomber blew up his vehicle at a checkpoint south of Baghdad and killed four American soldiers Monday, the military said. The U.S. command also announced five soldiers from an elite unit were charged with kicking and punching Iraqi detainees.

Suicide bombers and IEDs kill American soldiers; American soldiers brutalizing Iraqi detainees—same shit, same story, different day. But, hey, according to the latest Bush administration spin, there’s a bright side to the death of every U.S. soldier: It could have been worse. On Friday I caught U.S. general being interviewed on NPR. Just looking at the numbers of U.S. deaths presented a distorted picture, he said, because…

…the actual number of attacks has gone up, but the rate at which they’re inflicting casualties has not risen correspondingly.

More attacks, more IEDs, more deaths… but the death toll is not rising as fast as you might think, based on the rising number of attacks. So when you hear that four soldiers died, you should think, “Hey, we’re making progress! A year ago that bomb would probably have killed eight soldiers!ā€¯

I linked to the interview on Saturday because I thought it was so creepily Orwellian. But here it is again, in case you want to listen.