Friday, August 17, 2007

Brookings: US Military Falling Behind on Reporting Progress in Iraq

From the latest Brookings Institution Iraq Index:

After a trip of 8 days one of us (O'Hanlon) took to Iraq this July, revisions are needed in some key numbers in the Iraq Index. This is in part because fresh data have recently become available, and in part because the U.S. military and Bush administration have not done a sufficient job getting data into the American public debate. It required a trip to Iraq to get access to some information that really should be widely available on this side of the Atlantic.

A more thorough accounting will follow in the coming days, but in short, civilian fatality levels in Iraq now seem to have declined substantially more than previous Pentagon reports or data had indicated. In particular, the monthly civilian fatality rate from sectarian violence appears about one-third lower than in the pre-surge months. That is still far too high, and remains comparable to violence levels of the 2004-2005 period, but it nonetheless reflects progress...

On balance, Iraq at the end of July is showing significant signs of battlefield momentum in favor of U.S./coalition military forces, but there is nonetheless little good to report on the political front and only modest progress on the economic side of things.

Any improvements are welcome, although the report shows pretty clearly that there remains lots of work to be done. Nevertheless, we were hoping for dramatic reductions in sectarian violence and it seems to be dropping dramatically.

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