General Petraeus presented a series of slides in his testimony today; you can see them here, along with transcripts of the testimony.
The most fundamental question, I think, is whether the troop surge is producing results. If it is, then the Democrats’ defeatism is misplaced and most likely politically motivated. If it isn’t, then we’ve tried everything and should either get out or, more plausibly, give up on Iraqi democracy and install a relatively friendly tyrant. From that perspective, here are three of the key slides.
This one shows overall attacks nationwide, broken down by category, on a weekly basis. It shows a sharp increase from the beginning of 2006 to mid-2007, and an even sharper decline since then. Click to enlarge:
This one shows overall civilian deaths. Again, the improvement is obvious:
Finally, we’ve all heard about the striking improvement in Anbar province. This slide shows it graphically:
One could argue that the statistics underlying these slides are unreliable, and, admittedly, by their nature the figures in question cannot be known with perfect precision. But I’ve seen no persuasive, or even coherent, critique of the data maintained by the armed services. If we assume the statistics are reasonably close, it seems clear that the surge is succeeding, so far. That doesn’t necessarily mean that its success will continue, or that the Iraqis will be able to take political and economic advantage of improving security. But it does mean that it would be folly–to put it mildly–to pursue a policy of defeat, given the disastrous consequences that inevitably would ensue.
PAUL adds: General Petraeus acknowledged in his statement to Congress that many of the figures he cited cannot be determined with precision. He added, however, that “two US intelligence agencies recently reviewed our methodology, and they concluded that the data we produce is the most accurate and authoritative in Iraq.”
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