Spike in Bombings in Iraq Unrelated to lack of US Patrols

Bombings killed 8 and wounded 50 in Iraq on Tuesday. There were two bombings in eastern Shiite neighborhoods in the capital. A boy and two soldiers were wounded near Baqubah.

These attacks are likely to go on for a while. But despite what a lot of commentators imply, the recent bombings have almost nothing to do with the cessation of US patrols in the major cities.

As AFP lets slip, 437 Iraqis were killed by political violence in June, the last month of US military patrols, with 40 attacks per week.

In July, the first month in which there were no regular US patrols in the major cities, 275 Iraqis were killed in political violence and the number of attacks was 29 per week.

One month does not make a trend. The number of deaths in August could well be back up to the June level. But if deaths and attacks dropped by a third during the first month of no US patrols, it is not legitimate to suggest that the patrols need to start back up or their lack is the cause of increased violence!

Moreover, the bombing in Khazna north of Mosul would not have been in any way impeded by patrols of US troops in the big city of Mosul. Small villages have all along been vulnerable to attacks precisely because they are seldom garrisoned by US or Iraqi troops. In August of 2007, truck bombings of two Yazidi villages in the north killed an estimated 500 Iraqis. And that was at the height of the so-called ‘surge.’ US troops could not stop the hitting of a soft target like that 2 years ago, and Iraqi troops cannot stop it today. It is irrelevant to the question of the security fallout from the US withdrawal.

So, to repeat: Violence and monthly death tolls fell when the US troops stopped patrolling. And attacks like that at Khazna were happening when US troops had more security duties.

So whatever has been going on in Iraq during the past week is not an argument for the unwisdom of the troop drawdown. The journalists who are playing up this angle are just not doing the math.

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