By excluding an increasingly deadly source of violence in data from Baghdad, the Bush administration is twisting the definition of “success” in the war in Iraq.
The White House doesn’t count car bombs or other explosive devices, main killers of Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops, in its month-to-month statistics — the ones used this week by President Bush to spin his evaluation of U.S. military progress. Instead, the administration points to a dramatic 50-percent drop in sectarian murders by death squads in Baghdad as evidence that the “surge” of American troops into the Iraqi capitol is working. Yet, the number of bombings and the number of resulting deaths have risen since the U.S. troop surge. Deaths by explosions, as compiled by McClatchy Newspapers, rose from 323 in March to 365 as of April 24.
What’s the meaning of this data The tactics of this war are changing. Instead of religious cleansing in the middle of the night of Sunnis by Shiites, there are indiscriminate daytime explosions in Iraqi neighborhoods — and they are just as deadly. Bush believes that since the bombings are non-sectarian and just plain terror, his administration shouldn’t count them in judging success or failure in Iraq.
That’s kind of like judging student achievement on a report card by erasing the failing grades in math and English, but keeping the A in physical education.