Friday, April 04, 2008

Iraq Back in the Headlines

With al Maliki's attempt to gain control over renegade Shiite militias in Basra and Baghdad, Iraq is back in the headlines again. Here's our latest monthly look at Iraq, a 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
2008: 31
March: 29

Americans Killed in Action, Vietnam (monthly average)
1965: 128*
1966: 420
1967: 767
1968: 1140
1969: 785
1970: 413
* = 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: 2.20 (Revised upward, 1/08)
actual: 2.38 (3/08)

Electricity (megawatts)

Prewar: 3,958
Goal: 6,000
actual: 4,220 (3/08)

Since our last monthly report, the monthly American KIA total dropped to 29 in March from 33 the month before, even though 8 Americans died on a single day, March 11. And the monthly American KIA average remains at half the rate of 2 a day sustained for most of the Iraq war, with the monthly average for 2008 at 31, the lowest for any year of the war. [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.] The single best marker of the surge's success is the continued low rate of American KIA since September 2007.

In March, oil output remained steady at 2.38 million barrels a day. Revenue from oil exports continues at all-time highs, with January's total the highest on record, and February's the second highest. When complete figures are in for March, its revenue should be at or near the top, partly due to oil's all-time high prices. As for electricity, output was up from 3,950 to 4,220 megawatts, the highest for any March on record (electricity demand is seasonal, making seasonal comparisons the most relevant).

The Iraq Index has included results of an ABC News/BBC/ARD German TV/USA Today poll of Iraqi public opinion completed in February. The results show increased optimism from Iraqis. By 36% to 26%, they say security in Iraq is getting better. Last August, they said "worse" by 61% to 11%. Asked to rate the overall situation in Iraq, 61% of Shia, 16% of Sunni, and 45% of Kurds said it was "very good" or "good." Last September, those figures were: Shia, 39%, Sunni 2%, Kurd, 17%. Asked how things would be a year from now, 46% said "better," 20% "worse." Last August, the figures were "better" 23%, "worse" 42%.

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