Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Violence In Iraq

Since we are into tables (I love tables and charts! They are the best part of data analysis!), I wanted to add a few here. In my previous comments I mentioned the number of Insurgent attacks. So I started thinking about trend lines for attacks in relation to lines for casualities. These numbers come from various indicies published by the Brookings Institution and from The U.S. Defense Department. So my numbers may be a bit different from those presented by Dr. S. It is really hard to get solid numbers as war is chaos. So counting the costs is something of an imprecise science. But I think these are accurate enough to get the idea.

I was surprised to see that the number of attacks as remained fairly stable even in the number of U.S. military casualities has been jagged.

I also wanted to add something here about Iraqi Civilians. They tend to be forgotten in these disucssions. But they are paying dearly in blood for this war.

* numbers before Jan 06 exclude Murders. Numbers from Jan 06 forward include all violent causes. The justification provided by Bookings is that at this point, there is little or no difference between murder and death caused by the war itself. That is telling.


Dr. Strangelove said...

Terrific charts, USWest. The increase in Iraqi civilian casualties is staggering. I presume the Iraqi civilian "casualties" are all deaths, right?

It's also fascinating that the number of insurgent attacks has risen gradually. It would appear that the insurgents are getting better at killing civilians but--if i am reading the charts right--the US military is getting somewhat better at defending itself, in that U.S. casualties are rising at a slower rate than the insurgent attacks.

USWest said...

Gee, Dr. S, you are worse than me, up at all hours playing with this stuff!

Actually, I am not sure if the Iraqi numebrs are all deaths. That is why I combined the numbers ofr dead and wounded. The Brookings indicies are full of interesting information that is much more fine grained than what we are presenting. So it is worth having a look at. They have tables that show how U.S. troops are getting hurt (IEDS), as well as breakouts for non-U.S. troops in terms of casualities.

What I see is that the attacks are getting either more deadly or better targeted.

Raised By Republicans said...

You can really see where the Sunni-Shia civil war started in early 2006.

Anonymous said...

I believe the jaggedness of US casualties corresponds to their offensives (the iraqi attacks on them are like a steady increasing constant). Note the difference between controlled directed strategy (us forces, jagged line) and iraqi attacks (steady). The jaggedness is not random noise- that's the background steady growth in chaos.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Yep. Nothin' better than having a cup of tea and staring at a nice warm graph--hot off the presses--before going to bed. How could I not comment on the post? :-)

But seriously... it's the sort of data one would think should be plastered everywhere, but isn't. I hate the way the news mentions only the current month or week--at best compared only to the previous. Like I heard the other day a random statistic on job creation, where--as usual--the announcer tried to make things sound really dire. He said that job creation was up less than expected this month, and last month it had the worst drop in 15 months. So if you think about it, that all just means that last month was a blip and we just didn't rebound all the way, as the experts expected. (No doubt next month, we will... but they never continue the storyline.)

I heard HRC say that "evidence-based" science needed to be re-injected into government processes. Hear, hear.

Raised By Republicans said...

Anonymous makes an important observation. The spikes are our offensives and the trend is the result of the steady pressure of the insurgency.

So what does this tell us from a political/military point of view? We can only conclude that each of those offensives had temporary positive effects at best and at worst had no effect on the insurgency. That is, every time we have a surge/offensive we increase our casualties (probably also theirs) but do not succeed in chaning the long term trends.

In short, this graph that US West has put up for us (combined with the graphs put up by Dr. Strangelove) show what a fantasy a military solution is.

When we leave (and we will eventually no matter who wins the next election or two), all hell is going to break loose. What we see with these graphs is that not only will we continue to pay in lives and treasure until we do leave but that our rate of paying will continue to increase.

We should get out now!

USWest said...

Not only are we not depressing insurgent turnout, we aren't sparing any civilans either. We may not be the one's killing them, but we aren't saving them or securing them either.

Some countries need a strong man. Iraq was one of them. And this idea that democracy is great for all is something of a myth that for some reason, we keep holding on to. The middle east has strong men for a reason.

On another issue: I agree with Dr.S. The media only give snap shots that don't make a whole. We should make a point on this blog to do more of this sort of thing. And I think we have to question the assumption that growth in the economy is always a good thing. In all biological systems, you need growth followed by a stablization period or a period of integration. If you have constant growth, the organizim is damaged. The same can be said for human organizational models.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I was "anonymous." I left the comment because I was fascinated by the shape of the data. I tend to think of steady lines as being trends with causes, and the jagged fluctuations as "random noise." Here it was the opposite: the fluctuations were most likely the result of deliberate policy. It got me to thinking about war and how it works. Earlier - some months ago - we saw charts of casualties in Vietnam and the US Civil War. I also recall that offensive strategists traditionally call for larger numbers than defenders.

It occurs to me that one relationship is very simple: going on the offensive cause an increase in one's own casualties. Grant and Sherman knew this well. For guerillas, offensive activity is steady stream of random attacks. For a conventional army, offensive activity always comes in "pushes" or battles resulting in spikes of casualties.

So what we see in the graphs of casualties in Iraq is even grimmer. Casualties are increasing even though the casualty spikes (representing offensive activity) are rarer.

Put another way, despite the "surge," the Bush administration's goal of tamping down casualty numbers is really a policy of deliberately limiting the scope and scale offensive activity. Yet casualties are still rising.

We need to get out of Iraq. We need to give the Iraqis the signal that the time to prepare for the post-US Iraq is NOW.

USWest said...

I think the Brookings reports also list the number of insurgent deaths. How they can tell that, I don't know considering that insurgents and citizens are hard to tell apart. I will put up a chart later of their losses. We should see if we are taking any of them with us.

USWest said...

LTG makes a good point. What was it that Mao said? When he was a rogue, he could beat conventional armies with gurrellia tactics. As a conventional leader, he had to supliment his conventional tactics with gurrellia activities. His point was that the more organized a group of combatants becomes, the less effective they are against non-conventional forces.

I was watching Band of Brother's last night. And I was reminded of how wars once were. You know who you were fighting, and what the rules were. That did not mean the rules were followed. There are no rules anymore and you can sort of understand where the Adminsitraiton is coming from when it starts talking about ignoring "rules". However, I would rather leave with the rules still intact than disband all rules and go into anarchy and choas.

I think we have some of the most impressive soliders in the world. I think our military, had they been allowed to do things their way, would have been out of Iraq 3 years ago. The commaders are smart. THey know what works and they have reasons for their actions. I 'd rather see them using their talents, brains, and skills doing something worth while. THis isn't worth while. They aren't policemen. They are war fighters.

Time for the Iraqis to step up. My fear however, is that in pulling out, we unleash Iran and Syria. What is the most bothersome to me is that this Adminstration is not laying any visible ground work to get our men and women home. That will end up being the job of the next President. And I am pretty for sure the next president will be Hiliary Clinton. And the Republicans will give her hell because she is a woman and worse still, a Clinton. They will probably loose in 2012 as a result. But regardless, she will either be forever blamed or lauded depending on the outcome. No one will remember in the end who started this mess and who made it worse. I don't just want a Democrat in the White House, I want Bush, ROve, Rummy, Cheney to pay.

The Law Talking Guy said...

USWest writes: "I don't just want a Democrat in the White House, I want Bush, Rove, Rummy, Cheney to pay."

I feel that way all the time! I have daydreams about it. And it frightens me too, because that's no way to win a majority. I fear that voting for HRC is a vote of spite and vengeance rather than hope. Let's just keep in mind that a big victory in 2008 will be the sweetest revenge of all.

USWest said...

I disagree that a vote for Hilary may be a spiteful act. I have become very philosophical about my 2008 vote, an yes, even sexist. So forgive me while I indulge my normally suppressed sexism. The more I see, the more I read about HRC, the more comfortable about voting for her. I don't agree with everything she says. Nor do I think she is perfect. But I respect her. She's made tough choices, huge mistakes, and questionable sacrifices. So how does that make her different from any one of us? We just have the luxury of not being publicly judged.

I really think that we have reached a point in time where we need new kinds of leaders. And I am very nearly sold on the idea that we need a woman or a minority. It is time for a Hilary or an Obama, or even an Richardson (although I am not interested in him as a candidate. But you take my point.).

No offense to the kind and intelligent men who write for and read our blog, but WASPs have driven this country, and a good part of the world into the mud. We have become very left brain dominated, very technologically advanced. But we need to step back and take a good right-brained look at the result.

Everywhere around me I smell a need for change. Our planet that sustains us is rebelling against us. We are out of sync with the natural world, we are out of sync with each other, our technology as wonderful as it is, has advanced faster than our ability to manage it properly and to integrate it into a healthy lifestyle. That is our shortcoming and our success, not the fault of technology for it just a tool of human agency.

I see a shift where soft power is being talked about seriously again. Suddenly foreign languages (i.e. communication) is considered a high priority alongside military hardware. We are talking about the need for more human intelligence rather than depending on satellites.

In the workplace, employers are recognizing that they are loosing highly qualified women and men by having working environments that are inhospitable to raising a family. Look at the discussion of gay marriage. One of the successes that has come from that debate is a dialogue about relationships and how they should be recognized and honored.

Doctors are looking more toward Chinese medicine and natural methods for managing illness and preventing disease. We are finding new ways to treat without over medicating (a result of over-priced, over hyped drugs).

So there is a rebalancing going on, I think. And if we are going thrive into the next century, we have to change how we live and how we think, period. But then I live in California by the ocean so maybe I am nuts, or maybe its because I see what is happening to our fishermen and our Ag land. There aren't any fish, the bay is polluted with DDT from 30 years ago, the otters are dying and we don't know why. We are building housing development and paving open fields, halting the absorption of water into our aquifer. So we are on water rationing. Our sewage system is aged and leaking into the bay. I could go on and on about what is happening in my coastal community an our efforts here to stop it.

It is time to value the skills that women and minorities bring to the table in a real way. We've been shut out too long and as I look at the environment around me, I think we need a woman's touch, or a different type of leader with different sensibilities be that person gay, brown, pink or purple. But it can't be just any person- it has to be one who can play the game, who can take the heat, and who isn't afraid to use the military if need be. So I don't see a vote for HRC as a spiteful act against Republicans at all. I see it as hopeful act that it preparing us for the changing times or a clear declaration that we don't want the same old shit anymore.

Dr. Strangelove said...

LTG writes, "I tend to think of steady lines as being trends with causes, and the jagged fluctuations as 'random noise.' Here it was the opposite..."

Actually, I think you had it right in the first place. Steady lines are trends with causes and jagged fluctuations are best described as random noise. The corollary at play here is that, where a trendline is visible, the random noise has a typical range. Fluctuations outside of that range are not explained by the steady trend, so they must have another cause. In this case, as you noted, the two large peaks are due to distinct "surges," two variations on the underlying policy.

The Law Talking Guy said...

USWest - you have to admit that there's something ironic about voting for the wife of former President Bill Clinton's and declaring that vote "a clear declaration that we don't want the same old shit anymore." Part of Obama's appeal is that, unlike HRC, he's not the "same old shit." For many Americans, that's just what she is.

Others think that electing a former first lady is not the way to correct the error of electing a man (GWB) whose sole qualification was being related to a former president and briefly holding a high-ranking elected position.

I agree with a lot of what you said (more than you might imagine) but I think HRC is a more troubling prospect than you credit.

All that being said, I would love it if she were president, but it is not because I am hopeful that Ms.-Iraq-is-a-good-thing-and-I-didn't-change-my-mind-until-2006 will bring great change, but because I KNOW she will punish the "loyal Bushies."

USWest said...

ell, LTG, people voted for WJC because they wanted change initially. But your point is taken. Yes, it is ironic.

The former first lady has more experience than GWB did, so I don't think that is a fair comparasion. She was very integral to what Bill did in office. So she has seen it close up. She participated in the Watergate prosecutions, was part of the Carter Campaign machine, assisted her husband in governing Arkansas, etc. That is more the GWB did. She didn't do drugs, she didn't party her college years away, and she hasn't been pulled out of every mess with Daddy's name and money. Of course, I know there is a difference between governing experience and political experience.

And looking at what we have to chooose from on the Democratic side, she is about it. Obama isn't seasoned. Biden makes me laugh and I find him refreshingly frank, and none of the others besides Edwards interest me. But he strikes me as slimmy somehow- he over-emotes as I have said before.

As for her stance of Iraq, I really am not bothered by that. It is one of the things that I disagree wither her on, but people do change their minds. And what she is saying is that at the time I voted, I was doing so based on what the info as at the time. Would I like to hear her call it a mistake? Sure. But I am not going to avoid voting for her on that basis alone.

No one, even Obama, is going to pull out of Iraq over night. It just doesn't work that way. And those who say they will I think are 1) lying 2) unrealistic 3) will change their mind once the weight of the decision is on their shoulders.

It is early. And I am skeptical of them all. Promises can be made. But when you have all the dossiers in front of you . . . .