Ray of Hope?

It would appear that there is definitely some good news to report out of Iraq. After sustaining the third highest month of casualties in May of 2007, according McClatchy the casualties have declined for three solid months since.

This is most definitely a good thing, that is if it is true.

I decided to take a look at the casualty count as tallied by the organization McClatchy cited as their source for this piece, icasualties.org. If you take a look at their direct numbers you will notice one distinct difference, the numbers do not match.
Coalition Casualties August 2007
If we just compare the past four months we can see that something is whacky. Remember, this is the same site that McClatchy cites as the source for their graphic yet on the last two data points, May and August McClatchy shows 123 & 57 deaths respectively whereas icasualties.org shows 126 & 81.

There is no question that any way you look at it August had less casualties than May but the disparity is real. For the most part these numbers jive +/- 3 or so casualties until we hit the month of August when the differential drops to -24 casualties. Even if you use the filtering methods on the site to differentiate between hostile fire and non-combat related deaths the numbers don’t agree [although they moves much closer to the +/- 3 noted before].

August 2007 Cause of Death

This seriously begs the question what changed in the method of counting combat casualties in August? Does it have anything to do with the upcoming Patreus report on “the surge?” And lastly, what type of deaths did the Pentagon decide not to include in their official count to account for this change?

UPDATE: Upon further review of the icasualties.org website I came across a trend comparison that is worth noting. According to the keepers of that site,

A Proposed Benchmark for Evaluating Surge Success Based on the Fatality Trend Line (Blue in the Chart Below):
If the Fatality Trend Line Drops Below 10 for an Extended Period (At Least Ten Weeks; A Pattern Not Seen Since the 2003 Occupation), and
If it is Accompanied by a Parallel Reduction in Iraqi Deaths (to the early 2005 level of less than 100 Per Week, Down from 300-400 Now – See US vs Iraqi Fatalities tab),
Then the Surge will Have Achieved a Substantive Measure of Initial Success.

UPDATE II: Being the lazy man I am (not to mention the fact that my entire day AFTER the Labor Day event was spent being pulled away from here to do chores around the house) I asked Engram over at Back Talk to give me some help with the question of why there is a spike in non-combat related deaths from his expert statistical point of view. Of course the answer didn’t need an expert at all, only someone with some more time to research.

Engram said…
There really is no discrepancy. There were two helicopter crashes in August, neither one of which was due to enemy fire, that killed 19 soldiers. Another non-hostile death was listed as being due to natural causes, another to an accident (probably involving a vehicle), and a few others don’t have the cause listed. But it was mostly those two helicopter crashes that casued non-hostile deaths to spike in August. All of this is documented at ICCC.

Good, so no nefarious fuzzy math at play.


Now there is still the pesky question as to how a three month increase in US casualties over this time last year [June-August 2006 = 169 deaths – June-August 2007 = 261 deaths], has somehow been interpreted as proving the success of the surge.

Others blogging this story: Captain’s Quarters, Jules Crittenden, Wake up America, Back Talk, The American Street, Sister Toldjah, Burkean Reflections, Group News Blog, Connecting.the.Dots, Blue Girl, Red State and Show Me Progress

6 Responses to “Ray of Hope?”

  1. daveinboca says:

    Perhaps we have turned the tide and are beginning to win. However, this event will go unreported when and if it happens in the left-wing MSM & the nutroot Bloggos—they so desperately want us to lose.

  2. Perhaps. Or perhaps not. I am still looking for an answer to why the big difference in non-combat related casualties has gone up so much in August. As you can see from the data above, US casualties are up over the same three months last year [June-Aug] – 169 vs. 261.

  3. Macswain says:


    Do you actually expect daveinboca to compare Aug ’07 to Aug ’06? That’s so last year.

    Here’s the rule: you compare each new month with the most recent worst month – May ’07 for the time being – anything not as bad is “success.”

  4. I recognize that logic, you must work in corporate America?

  5. matttbastard says:


    How about this for ‘benchmarks’: if basic infrastructure can be maintained (such as having electricity for longer than 4 hours a day); if security can be improved enough to not only stem the ongoing displacement of the educated classes (you know the ones who can help maintain said basic infrastructure) but allow the over 4 million refugees who have been forced to flee to return (fat chance); if the public starts to trust the authorities enough to reintegrate formerly mixed neighbourhoods and quit placing their loyalties behind sectarian militias (most of which have infliltrated various levels of government); maybe if we can somehow magically invent a viable, independent, secular-nationalist parliament that actually works AND equally represents and unite said disparate sectarian interests; maybe if we could magically invent a time machine and NOT de-Baathify the nation and immediately create a power vortex; then maybe-MAYBE-we can call this whole bloody endeavour a write off.

    But a win? With the blood of umpteen hundred thousand corpses staining our hands? Fuck you and the horse the you and fourth horseman rode in on. And fuck your crass, callous attempts selective partisan point scoring. I don’t give a good god damn about ‘nutroots’ and ‘left wing media conspiracies’. I care about flesh and blood people that have had their lives uprooted or have died and continue to die because the ideological industrial complex decided abuse their authority and use Iraq as a geopolitical petri dish.

    So don’t try to tell me that half-assed PR stunts like the Kagan surge or selective number crunching re: coalition/civilian casualties (which always cycle seasonally – come back to me when Ramadan hits and then maybe IF numbers are still down there’ll be something to be happy about) designed purely for domestic consumption are meant to do anything more than allowing for another Friedman. If Bush was actually serious about doing what was best for Iraq and the surrounding region, he would have immediately adopted the (not perfect but better than any other alternatives at such a late point in time) ISG recommendations, which could have maybe–maybe–stopped some of the bleeding. Instead, he went with the AEI’s preferred victory blueprint (and his ego).

    Surprise surprise.

    So now Bush is merely buying time until Jan ’09, when Iraq is someone else’s problem, and both the MSM and the Democratic-controlled congress is enabling it with the same old Kabuki performance they always do. Shit, Warner’s even furrowing his brow yet again (and I’m willing to bet an F.U.’s worth of wages that he’ll vote his party line, again, too).

    The sheets have been soiled, blood and shit stains already well-set as soon as the bombs started shocking and aweing. 4 years later, you can illuminate the mess with a ray of hope, but that doesn’t clean it up. The bed will not be unshat, no matter how many pretty graphs are compiled and commissioned think tank op-eds are published.

    Feel free to dismiss the preceding rant as defeat-o-crat moonbattery (free Mumia! Bu$hitler! etc). Doing so won’t make Iraq any less a failed state.

  6. matttbastard says:

    And like any good rant, there are a number of choice typographical errors.

    Hey, if you’re going to be a raving moonbat, might as well go all the way.


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