Grim truth

4 September 2006, 0339 EDT

I took this excerpt about the new Pentagon Iraq report from the LA Times, September 2, but the news was widely circulated. However, you might have missed it because not only did the administration wait until a Friday to release bad news — it was a Friday before a three day weekend in the midst of an east coast tropical storm!

Attacks and civilian deaths in Iraq have risen sharply in recent months, with casualties increasing by 1,000 a month, and sectarian violence has engulfed larger areas of the country, the Pentagon said Friday in a strikingly dismal report to Congress.

The quarterly report, based on new government figures, showed the number of attacks in Iraq over the last four months had increased 15% and Iraqi casualties had risen by 51%. Civilian and military deaths and injuries have surpassed 3,000 each month since May.

Over a longer period, the increase in violence is more dramatic. Weekly attacks have nearly doubled, from 423 in spring 2004 to 792. More than 110 people a day died violently in Iraq in the last three months, the report said, up from fewer than 30 a day in 2004.

The report notes, “conditions that could lead to civil war exist.” 80% of those polled in Baghdad believe a civil war might occur.

Much of the increase in sectarian violence is traced to the mosque bombing in Samarra early this year. Remember, when it occurred, many analysts almost immediately predicted civil war.

The story notes that previous versions of this quarterly report were much rosier. Did the Pentagon join the “reality-based community,” or is this the DoD’s way of postponing the “on to Iran (or Syria)” urge?

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