Progress in Iraq Quantified

Donald Rumsfeld has gotten an optimistic assessment of progress made recently in fighting the Saddamite resistance in Iraq. According to the Washington Post, military commanders say that attacks on American troops have dropped from around 40 a day in mid-November to fewer than 20 a day now.
Rumsfeld was cautious, saying it’s “too early to call it a trend.” But other data are encouraging:
“[General Raymond] Odierno reported that U.S. troops had made substantial progress in defending against hidden explosive devices — one of the primary causes of troop casualties. By stepping up night patrols and using aerial surveillance to spot suspicious digging, he said, U.S. forces have been able to discover about 75 percent of the devices now before they go off, up from 10 to 15 percent initially.
“The general also said the percentage of attempted attacks that result in damage to U.S. or coalition forces has declined to five percent.”
Actually, I’m confident the Saddamite holdouts can and will be defeated. The far greater concern, I think, is whether Iraq can successfully make the long-term transition to a peaceful and pluralist democracy. Given the track record in Arab countries, there is not much ground for confidence other than the faith, so eloquently articulated by President Bush, that all men want and deserve to be free.

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