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Friday, August 03, 2007

Tooting our horn

I think I made this same observation a few days ago, but it's nice to get some support when CNN and the Rethuglican noise machine are droning on about how well the surge is going. This piece is from Brian Whitaker:

... but he [Dick Cheney] has been backed up by some officially-spun figures from the Pentagon which the New York Times cheerfully headlined: US death toll in Iraq in July expected to be lowest in '07.

The 74 US military deaths reported in July (since revised upwards to 78) were indeed the lowest since November. According to a high-ranking commander quoted by the New York Times, this is a "positive sign". Viewed in another way, though, the figure is alarming. As Juan Cole, the blogging professor from Michigan University, points out, a decrease in July would be normal:

July is like a blast furnace in Iraq, with temperatures approaching 120 degrees F in the shade. Guerrillas typically lie low in this unfavourable environment, compared to other seasons, and so the casualty rates go down. Instead, this year the killing season has gone on as if it were spring.

In fact, last month was the deadliest July for American troops since the war began. The July figures for previous years range between 43 and 54, so - behind the spin - this year has seen a big increase.


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