Monday, June 18, 2007

Get ready: The Surge is Working. NOT!

For some time I've been pointing out that the ways in which expectations around the surge have been set has been very strategic. The most visible measure that is always discussed is the the level of violence in general and American casualties in general. Thus, if violence trends down, the surge is working. If it is trending up, then it is not. Give the surge some time to work, you'll see. Check back in July, err, no, make that September. Well give an assessment then. The fallacy in this marketing is that the level of violence in Iraq is the result of may factors but one of the largest variables is the weather. Simply put, Iraqi summers are too hot and dusty to do much of anything. A look at casualty trends over the course of the war has always shown a downward trend as summer approaches so any plan that will be measured a success by a decrease in violence in Iraq over the summer is sure to be a success. Well, at least till October or November when the curve climbs up again.

Here are some charts illustrating these facts based on data from Iraq Coalition Casualities.

Trend for the war's duration:

Here we can see a month by month trend for the first half of 2006 and 2007.

As you can see, there is a decrease in June and the overall pattern mirrors that of last year. We can expect to hear claims of victory in July and Sept claiming that the violence is down as a result of the surge. This is absurd as claiming that the surge is working because it is hot in July, but that is what we will hear.