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January 24, 2005

Iraqi Insurgency Growing Larger, More Effective

Tom Lasseter and Jonathan S. Landay report for Knight Ridder

KR Washington Bureau | 01/21/2005 | Analysis: Iraqi insurgency growing larger, more effective:BAGHDAD, Iraq - The United States is steadily losing ground to the Iraqi insurgency, according to every key military yardstick. A Knight Ridder analysis of U.S. government statistics shows that through all the major turning points that raised hopes of peace in Iraq, including the arrest of Saddam Hussein and the handover of sovereignty at the end of June, the insurgency, led mainly by Sunni Muslims, has become deadlier and more effective.

The analysis suggests that unless something dramatic changes - such as a newfound will by Iraqis to reject the insurgency or a large escalation of U.S. troop strength - the United States won't win the war. It's axiomatic among military thinkers that insurgencies are especially hard to defeat because the insurgents' goal isn't to win in a conventional sense but merely to survive until the will of the occupying power is sapped. Recent polls already suggest an erosion of support among Americans for the war.

The unfavorable trends of the war are clear:

  • U.S. military fatalities from hostile acts have risen from an average of about 17 per month just after President Bush declared an end to major combat operations on May 1, 2003, to an average of 71 per month.
  • The average number of U.S. soldiers wounded by hostile acts per month has spiraled from 142 to 708 during the same period. Iraqi civilians have suffered even more deaths and injuries, although reliable statistics aren't available.
  • Attacks on the U.S.-led coalition since November 2003, when statistics were first available, have risen from 735 a month to 2,400 in October. Air Force Brig. Gen. Erv Lessel, the multinational forces' deputy operations director, told Knight Ridder on Friday that attacks were currently running at 75 a day, about 2,300 a month, well below a spike in November during the assault on Fallujah, but nearly as high as October's total.
  • The average number of mass-casualty bombings has grown from zero in the first four months of the American occupation to an average of 13.3 per month.
  • Electricity production has been below pre-war levels since October, largely because of sabotage by insurgents, with just 6.7 hours of power daily in Baghdad in early January, according to the State Department.
  • Iraq is pumping about 500,000 barrels a day fewer than its pre-war peak of 2.5 million barrels per day as a result of attacks, according to the State Department.

"All the trend lines we can identify are all in the wrong direction," said Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, a Washington policy research organization. "We are not winning, and the security trend lines could almost lead you to believe that we are losing."...

Posted by DeLong at January 24, 2005 09:40 AM

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Tom Lasseter and Jonathan S. Landay - Knight Ridder Newspapers (thank you Brad Delong for the link): “The unfavorable trends of the war are clear:- U.S. military fatalities from hostile acts have risen from an average of about 17 per month just after... [Read More]

Tracked on January 24, 2005 10:36 PM


Since I don't eat turkee, I can at least say that we are losing in Iraq, as this story helps to show:

Latest crisis for Baghdad: No water for last five days - San Diego Union-Tribune


Posted by: David W. at January 24, 2005 10:18 AM

You can "almost" believe the US is losing! When does the "almost" go away?

Shame on those commentators who have been dodging the truth since April.

Posted by: sm at January 24, 2005 10:22 AM

once again, knight ridder shows the bigger players how actual news reportage and analysis is done. Would that the times, the post, cnn, cbs, abc, nbc, npr, and all the rest pay attention and learn....

Posted by: howard at January 24, 2005 10:46 AM

One more trendline: we're increasingly resupplying our military and embassy people in Iraq by air, because we don't control the roads. And not just the roads in general; we don't control ANY of the roads. We can't even control the road from the airport to the Green Zone.

How long did it take for things to get this bad in Vietnam? I don't remember the news EVER saying things were this dangerous for Americans in country in that war.

Posted by: RT at January 24, 2005 11:05 AM

The US isn't losing, it already lost months ago. The only questions left are how long it will take to acknowledge reality and how much damage will they do in the meantime.

Posted by: zzz at January 24, 2005 11:11 AM

But think of the schools!

Posted by: Snarkasaurus Rex at January 24, 2005 12:40 PM

yeah, but freedom is on the march!

Posted by: yam at January 24, 2005 02:16 PM

"acknowledge reality"

A hopelessly outdated concept.

Posted by: ogmb at January 24, 2005 03:28 PM

Actually only some of the trends are worsening. This post mentions 6 areas. But, despite some blips due to sabotage, 2 of them, oil produciton and electricity, have been going up, not down. Other improving trends include the size and training of the Iraqi security forces. The Iraqi military is nowhere near sufficient, but the trend is clearly up. Also Iraq's economy has been growing faster than most countries'.

Anyhow, it's always questionable to simply extrapolate mediium term trends when looking at a war. Many factors don't normally have long-term linear trends. The two sides modify their strategy to meet their opponents' strategy, resulting in ups and downs.

Posted by: David at January 25, 2005 12:43 AM

Langewiesche - Letter From Baghdad - Life in the wilds of a city without trust:


Fisk - Hotel Room Journalism:


Posted by: knobboy at January 25, 2005 05:49 AM

"Also Iraq's economy has been growing faster than most countries"

Hurrah! Another supply side triumph!

Posted by: Billmon at January 25, 2005 07:18 AM

So -- we must burn down the village in order to save it, eh, David?

Posted by: Jim J at January 25, 2005 11:51 AM

Count Iraq as 3 villages (Sunni, Shia & Kurd) & treat them accordingly. Treating the Shia as potential friends, however, would require not gratuitously attacking the Iranians, which might be considered sensible in any case.

Posted by: Neil Craig at January 25, 2005 01:19 PM

[comment spam]

Posted by: at February 9, 2005 11:44 PM

[comment spam]

Posted by: at February 9, 2005 11:44 PM

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