All patriotic Americans should be pleased by the brilliant success of the president's escalation—sorry, I should have said “surge”—in Iraq. The evidence of success is everywhere in our national media and our most revered pundits hasten to assure us that all is well. Just today, for example, the Washington Post explained that lower casualty rates in Iraq are a telling argument in favor of the president's military policies. We can all take comfort in the ceaseless happy-talk.
But I don't. While it's good that civilian casualties have dropped, that's almost entirely the result of abandonment of U.S. policies. Instead of insisting on a strong coalition central government in Baghdad, the administration is now allowing local militia groups to take over in different regions. Once these militia “win,” the violence declines. The locals even turn on al Qaeda and eject foreign influence from their neighborhoods. That sounds good, but it carries its own negative lesson for the U.S. Iraqis don't despise al Qaeda because of American opposition to Bin Laden's terrorist organization. They abhor al Qaeda because it brings violence to their country. The lesson is to get out of their way—since for some reason Iraqis consider our own troops (and mercenaries!) to be sources of violence. Go figure!
As for the numbers, it appears to have become unfashionable to talk about deaths among American troops. They're up. Relative to a year ago, U.S. troops have suffered more fatalities in each month except September. Excuse me for not celebrating our so-called success.