GOOD NEWS, SORT OF
The good news, from The New York Times:
U.S. Death Toll in Iraq in July Expected to Be Lowest in '07
The death of a marine in western Iraq brought the American military death toll to 74 so far in July, on course to be the lowest monthly figure this year.
The reduction follows a record 331 fatalities from April to June during intensive military operations in Baghdad and Diyala Province, according to Iraq Coalition Casualty Count....
Some casualties in late July may be reported after the beginning of August, so the count is not yet definitive for the month....
The not-so-good news is that this puts us pretty much exactly where we've been throughout the war.
Monthly deaths in 2004: 70.75. (Total: 849.)
Monthly deaths in 2005: 70.5. (Total: 846.)
Monthly deaths in 2006: 68.5. (Total: 822.)
All totals from Iraq Coalition Casualty Count.
In fact, July's number (which is now 78) was somewhat higher than the averages in previous years. If it looks encouraging, that's only in comparison with the triple-digit death tolls of recent months.
This is progress?
UPDATE: Feral Liberal makes a good point in comments:
Data from past years has shown that July has repeatedly had less casualties, then casualties rose in August:
July 2004 54
Aug 2004 66
July 2005 54
Aug 2005 85
July 2006 43
Aug 2006 65
Because of the heat, perhaps?
MORE: From Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns & Money.
And Iraqi civilian deaths were up sharply in July.