Saturday, April 29, 2006

Reading Iraq News in Context

Grim contributes understanding:

[A WaPo story cites]...State Department statistics showing a spike in terrorist attacks in 2005. The spin on this is that it is bad news, and that Iraq represents about a third of all worldwide attacks.

Yes, it would be better if there were fewer terrorist attacks, because everyone simply put down their weapons and stopped fighting us. On the other hand, a rise in terrorist attacks -- if coupled with a sharp drop in other kinds of attacks -- can signal that the enemy has lost the strength to fight in any other way.

In 2003, we saw combat in Iraq featuring armies; in 2004, uprisings in cities and regions across the country, including both a Shi'ite insurgency led by Sadr and an al-Qaeda led insurgency in the west. Neither survived the US military, and in 2005 we saw mostly terrorist attacks and snipers. That's the missing context. That is why a "spike" in terrorist attacks is not a sign of an insurgency waxing in its strength. It is the sign of an insurgency that is losing strength.

The thesis is credible. We hope that it's also correct.

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