Is Iraq Safer? How Would We Know?

October’s fatality rates for servicemembers plummeted in Iraq. Anbar seems to be less violent. People are saying that Al-Qaeda has been broken in Iraq, and some argue that bin Laden admitted as much in his latest tape.

But what is going on? I feel that the story is being missed in the news. I am very willing to attribute this to Petraeus. But what is he actively doing that has changed the situation? Obviously it is not anything on the policy side that has changed. Except that the Iraqi government has pretty much ceased to function lately.

Is it that Petraeus has pulled out of massive swaths of the country? Is it possible that in arming the Sunnis in Anbar, that he is gaming for an inevitable American pull-out, and by arming the Sunnis, he is hoping to ensure a stalemate between the sects? Or is it purely a move to arm the Sunnis against Al-Qaeda interlopers?

Apparently the statistics on air power show that we have performed more air strikes in Iraq in the last few months than we have in the whole REST OF THE WAR. Is that what’s going on? Instead of fighting on street level, we’re just leveling the fuck out of buildings? Is this a risk-averse strategy by Petraeus?

A compelling argument that I don’t really have good figures on is that perhaps the key areas have already been sectarianized. That is, massive refugee exodus and cleansing of neighborhoods has led to reduced violence in those areas now that people are of one sect/tribe.

I have a feeling we will be reading stupid fluff neo-con wanking articles for a while until the heavy-hitting journalists do their actual jobs and unravel the backstory here. Fareed Zakaria wrote about Petraeus pursuing realist strategies in forming alliances with all sides. Pretty good analysis if you ask me.

We’re not getting the truth right now. At any rate, fewer soldiers dying makes me happy.