Monday, June 25, 2007

Context for offensive

I probably won't be able to link for backup, but while it's probably still too early to assess the mostly conventional-military offensive begun last week that I discussed a couple of times last week, here's part of the context within which it was undertaken. The Pentagon issued its quarterly report on Iraq earlier this month -- analyzing date from February through early May, and it reported that "The aggregate level of violence in Iraq remained relatively unchanged suring this reporting period." Violence did decrease in many of the neighborhoods in Baghdad where the "surge" strategy of becoming a semi-permanent presence in neighborhoods was tried, especially during the first month or so. But it has begun increasing gradually.

Meanwhile, violence "increased in most provinces, particularly in outlying areas around Baghdad and in Neniva and Diyala provinces." Overall attacks on U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians increased by 2 percent from the previous quarter, and at more than 1,000 per week (!) is the highest level since the U.S. invasion.

Meanwhile the Iraqi government has not met any of the "benchmarks" U.S. officials are said to consider essential for settling the political situation down a little, such as an agreement on apportioning oil revenues, amending the constitution, or setting a schedule for provincial elections.

All this bad news makes the military offensive look somewhat like a desperate move to overcome what appears to be the disappointing results -- I'm not quite ready to say "failure" yet, but it does rather look that way -- of the "surge."

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