Tuesday, April 08, 2008


You may have seen the story "Attacks in Baghdad Spiked in March, U.S. Data Show" in today's New York Times, which includes this graph:

Well, over at the wingnut site Cybercast News Service we see the de-mothballing of a right-wing talking point, presumably in response to this:

Iraq Violence Peaked Just Before U.S. Election, Data Shows

Data from the Defense Intelligence Agency indicates that enemy-initiated attacks on U.S. troops, Iraqi security forces and Iraqi civilians peaked in October 2006, the month leading up to the U.S. midterm elections.

At the time, Vice President Dick Cheney said the insurgents were "very sensitive to the fact that we've got an election scheduled" and were trying to "break the will of the American people."

... The graph of DIA data, printed on page 5 of the testimony, ... shows that the overall number of enemy-initiated attacks during the entire course of the war peaked in October 2006 at more than 5,000. It also shows that the number of enemy-initiated attacks see-sawed for the next seven months, but never again reached the level recorded in the month before the U.S. midterm elections....

The report cited is here (PDF). Here's the chart (click to enlarge):

If you can see a real difference between October 2006 and, say, May and June 2007, your eyesight is way better than mine. (In fact, it appears that, in terms of attacks on coalition forces alone, May and June '07 were actually worse than October '06.)

The graph isn't reproduced in the CNS article because anyone looking at it would see that the pre-election "peak" was barely a peak.

The article does acknowledge that attacks were also extremely high after the election -- presumably because that was the period after "Democrats, who cast the 2006 midterm election as a referendum on Iraq, ended up taking control of both the House and the Senate" but before " the surge in U.S. forces in Iraq reached full strength." (There's no mention of Sadr's cease-fire.)

But the key point you're supposed to take away is that the peak was just before the election.

So -- even though no Democrats' names are mentioned in the article -- presumably if there's an increase in violence now, and if that increase is sustained (or worsens) in the next few months, it's not a sign of a failed Bush administration policy. Heavens no! It just means those Democrats are so damn unpatriotic that they feel they have a right to criticize the war, and even to run for office on that criticism.

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