Archive for Sunday, June 1, 2008

US military and civilian deaths down in Iraq

June 1, 2008



As of Saturday, at least 4,086 members of the U.S. military have died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

— U.S. military deaths plunged in May to the lowest monthly level in more than four years and civilian casualties were down sharply, too, as Iraqi forces assumed the lead in offensives in three cities and a truce with Shiite extremists took hold.

But many Iraqis as well as U.S. officials and private security analysts are uncertain whether the current lull signals a long-term trend or is simply a breathing spell like so many others before.

U.S. commanders also warn the relative peace is fragile because no lasting political agreements have been reached among the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish communities.

Talks on returning Sunnis to the government broke down this week, and tensions among rival Shiite parties remain high despite a May 11 truce that ended weeks of bloody fighting in Baghdad's Sadr City district.

Iraqis have experienced lulls in the past - notably after the January 2005 elections - only to see violence flare again.

"The security situation is much better than in the past three or four months, and I am making more money now," said Falih Radhi, who runs a food store in eastern Baghdad. "Despite this, I have a feeling that this positive situation won't last long and that violence may come back again."

Nevertheless, the figures for May are encouraging, especially coming as the United States continues withdrawing the nearly 30,000 reinforcements that President Bush sent to Iraq early last year to curb the wave of Shiite-Sunni slaughter.

All five of the "surge brigades" rushed to Iraq last year will be gone by July, lowering the troop strength to about 140,000, U.S. officials say. There are currently about 155,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

At least 21 American troopers were killed in May - four in non-hostile incidents. That's one more than the lowest monthly figure of the war set in February 2004.

Meanwhile, Iraqi deaths were down, too.

At least 532 Iraqi civilians and security troopers were killed during the month, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press from Iraqi police and military reports. That's down sharply from April's figure of 1,080 and the lowest monthly total this year, according to the AP count.

It includes 10 people who were killed Saturday when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a police checkpoint in Hit.

Last Sunday, military spokesman Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll said the number of attacks in the previous week fell to a level "not seen since March 2004," although he did not give specific figures.

At the same time, Iraqi forces have taken the lead in offensives against the Sunni extremist al-Qaida in Iraq in the northern city of Mosul and against Shiite militiamen in Baghdad and Basra in the south.

U.S. and coalition forces assumed a support role in the three offensives, enabling them to avoid higher casualties which would have been expected had they been doing all the fighting.

With the trends looking positive, the top American commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, said in Washington last week that he is likely to recommend further troop cuts in Iraq but won't promise more details until fall - as the U.S. presidential election campaign is approaching its climax.

But U.S. officials and private security analysts warn against rapid withdrawals and optimistic forecasts.

Former Pentagon analyst Anthony Cordesman wrote this week that despite some improvements among Iraqi forces, both Iraqi and U.S. officials continue "to sharply exaggerate the real-world readiness" of the country's army and police.

Petraeus himself said it's unlikely that Iraqi security forces can take the lead in all 18 provinces this year, as was recently predicted by the Pentagon.

"The overall trend in Iraq is positive, but we should be skeptical about overly optimistic assessments that we've 'turned the corner' in Iraq," said Eric Rosenbach of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and a former staffer of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

"It's more appropriate to say that we have a long road ahead of us rather than we've turned the corner."

The reason for such caution is that many of the issues that contributed to the Iraq conflict remain unresolved - notably how the various ethnic and religious groups will share power.

Last August, the largest Sunni Arab political bloc pulled out of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Cabinet, complaining it wasn't getting enough say in decision-making. Talks on a Sunni return broke down this week.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

What's to comment? The invasion and occupation are still one of the stupidest things this country ever did, the 4000 plus Americans are still dead for nothing but greed and vanity, and the political and humanitarian situation in Iraq is mostly just hopeless. The only reason the current situation looks good is because it has been so horrific over the past 5 years, and there is really no reason to think that things won't stay this bad indefinitely, and most likely worsen again.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

How's things in fantasy land this morning, mike? (In case you missed, it, Scottie admitted he was lying to you.)BTW, can you point out one statement in my previous post that is "left-wing," and tell me exactly what makes it so?

Satirical 9 years ago

bozo...I will let you define whether the war is "going well." As will every other American. However it is apparent that the news of the fewest American deaths in years has you and the other liberals defensive and upset. Probably afraid you may not gain the only thing you care about, political power, when Americans realize we can win this war and give the gift of self-government to an entire nation. In fact it is probably liberals who are selling weapons to the Sunnis and other terrorists, just to make the Republicans look bad so they can gain power.

Satirical 9 years ago

just_another_bozo_on_the_bus...Do you really believe your comment is objective? "...the 4000 plus Americans are still dead for nothing but greed and vanity..." How can that comment be a "fact?" It is by definition an opinion.If you cannot see that you are stating a left leaning opinion then perhaps you should stop going to your coffee house, stop smoking weed, stop listening to the liberal media and stop talking to Windlass.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

For screedposter, a solid grasp of the facts is a leftwing trait.

Satirical 9 years ago

Windlass....Thank you for proving that the LJWolrd blogs have no shortage of left-wing crazies. Let me try to out crazy you. Liberals hate to see the war going well, b/c it means they are wrong and conservatives stay in power. Liberals real hopes are for as many American soldiers to die as possible in order for them gain political power. So, naturally anytime there is an article reporting the war is going well and fewer Americans are dying they get outraged.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

"If you were alive in 1944, would you use the Battle of the Bulge"It's not 1944 and we are not fighting WWII.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

An excerpt from Robert Fisk--"Less than two years ago, we had an equally insane assessment of the war when General Peter Pace, the weird (and now mercifully retired) chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, said of the American war in Iraq that "we are not winning but we are not losing". At which point, George Bush's Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, said he agreed with Pace that "we are not winning but we are not losing".James Baker, who had just produced his own messy report on Iraq then said reader, please do not laugh or cry "I don't think you can say we're losing. By the same token, I'm not sure we're winning." Then Bush himself proclaimed, "We're not winning; we're not losing." Pity about the Iraqis. But anyway, now we really, really are winning. Or at least al-Qa'ida is "almost" note the "almost", folks defeated. So Mike Hayden tells us.Am I alone in finding this stuff infantile to the point of madness? As long as there is injustice in the Middle East, al-Qa'ida will win. As long as we have 22 times as many Western forces in the Muslim world as we did at the time of the Crusades my calculations are pretty accurate we are going to be at war with Muslims. The hell-disaster of the Middle East is now spread across Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, even Lebanon. And we are winning?Yes, we've bought ourselves some time in Iraq by paying half of the insurgents to fight for us and to murder their al-Qa'ida cousins. Yes, we are continuing to prop up Saudi Arabia's head-chopping and torture-practising regime no problem there, I suppose, after our enthusiasm for "water-boarding" but this does not mean that al-Qa'ida is defeated.Because al-Qa'ida is a way of thinking, not an army. It feeds on pain and fear and cruelty our cruelty and oppression and as long as we continue to dominate the Muslim world with our Apache helicopters and our tanks and our Humvees and our artillery and bombs and our "friendly" dictators, so will al-Qa'ida continue."For the whole article--

sfjayhawk 9 years ago

Finding_Uranus (Anonymous) says: "There will be no ceremonies on decks of ships"what about the 'mission accomplished' ceremony? note to all you bush fluffers out there - the mission accomplished ceremony was in 2003 - now in 2008 you are sill talking about how well this war is going? Wake up fools!

Satirical 9 years ago

Windlass....How did you find out about the conservatives' plot to destroy the housing market and the economy in an attempt to make Democrats look bad, only to have blow up in our faces? Who told you? You must have someone working on the "inside" to get such accurate information. Either that or you are some kind of savant.

Satirical 9 years ago

Oh wait, were you pretending to be a right wing crazy too.Yeah, that housing crisis is a fiction of the liberal media to make the current administration look bad.

Grith_Knethir 9 years ago

I disagree. Liberals don't hate to see war going well. Some liberals, mostly the liberals who don't really speak for the true Democratic Party hate to see President Bush's war going well. I haven't quite the answer why except I think it has something to with the 2000 election and the Christian Coalition; nothing at all to do with war. It's just something that has happened. Then the internet amped it up.

beatrice 9 years ago

So we are back to where we were one year after declaring "Mission Accomplished." Terrific. I wonder how many American will have been killed in this war by the time McCain has the troops leave in 2108? Obama for President! Time to bring the boys ... and girls... back home.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

"Liberals hate to see the war going well,"Exactly what would it look like if the war were going well? (This should be interesting, given that it's been and continues to be a steady disaster since before it started.)

Satirical 9 years ago

Umm....screedposter...I hate to be the one to break it to you but the housing crisis is real. There is big foreclosure problem which has affected many Americans including first-time home buyers. However, on the flip side there are some really good deals out there for those in the market, so not everyone loses. I plan to purchase a home in a year or so when the market bottoms out. Yeah capitalism!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

" Probably afraid you may not gain the only thing you care about, political power, when Americans realize we can win this war and give the gift of self-government to an entire nation."Given that you can't even provide a definition of "win," this is an utterly meaningless statement.If you jump off a cliff and on your way down, when a strong updraft slows your descent a bit, would you accuse me of wishing your death because I note that you will still soon hit bottom?

George_Braziller 9 years ago

Wow, ONLY 532 in one month. That is the entire population of the central Kansas town where I grew up including every woman, child, and man."At least 532 Iraqi civilians and security troopers were killed during the month, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press from Iraqi police and military reports. That's down sharply from April's figure of 1,080 and the lowest monthly total this year, according to the AP count."

RedwoodCoast 9 years ago

Deaths down in Iraq... but still accumulating... for who knows how far into the future...

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