Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Iraq: Is Peace Breaking Out?

Here’s our latest monthly, highly abbreviated version of the Iraq Index, published and updated twice a week by Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution:

Americans Killed in Action, Iraq (monthly average)
2003: 32
2004: 59
2005: 56
2006: 58
2007: 63
December: 17

Americans Killed in Action, Vietnam (monthly average)
1965: 128*
1966: 420
1967: 767
1968: 1140
1969: 785
* = First U.S. combat troops arrived in Vietnam, 5.3.65
Vietnam table compiled by Galen Fox using Defense Department sources.

Crude Oil Production (m. bbls./day)

Prewar Peak: 2.50
Goal: 2.10 (Revised downward, 1/07)
actual: 2.42 (12/07)

Electricity (megawatts)

Prewar: 3,958
Goal: 6,000
actual: 4,240 (12/07)

Since our last monthly report, the American KIA total dropped to its lowest level since February 2004, before Abu Ghraib, before the Mahdi army got going, back to the time al-Qaeda was just organizing its Iraqi insurgency. The KIA total for the past three months is similarly lower than any three months since December 2003-February 2004. For the year 2007, a year that included some of the war's worst months for American KIA, the monthly average is down to 63, in line with the two-a-day average for every year since the war's first. But American KIA in December, of course, averaged only one every two days. This is remarkable. [Please note: the number of KIA is almost always lower than the media-reported total of American deaths, which covers all causes, including non-hostile. Our Iraq and Vietnam figures are KIA only.]

Our other indicators continue to show success. Oil output is up to its highest daily total since October 2005, and is the fifth-highest oil daily output average for any month since the war began. Revenue from oil exports continues to rise for the previous month's output, though November's total was below October's record. As for electricity, output is also up for December--rising from 4,120 megawatts to 4,240 megawatts. For the July-December half year, electricity remained above 4,000 megawatts each month, unprecedented for any half year period since the war began.

Detractors point to the surge's failure to hit political targets set by Bush a year ago. It's true the major national targets--passage of laws to share oil revenue, to hold provincial elections, and to achieve de-Baathification--are all unmet. But what's happened is that informally, power and revenue are making their way to Kurdish and Sunni hands, thus achieving bottom-up the objectives we were trying to force top-down on Iraq's government last January.

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