[Marxism] Pentagon report on Iraq: "The insurgency has more public support...than at any point in time""

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Aug 17 18:57:22 MDT 2006

August 17, 2006
The Military

Insurgent Bombs Directed at G.I.'s Increase in Iraq 


This article is by Michael R. Gordon, Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 - The number of roadside bombs planted in
s/iraq/index.html?inline=nyt-geo> Iraq rose in July to the highest
monthly total of the war, offering more evidence that the anti-American
insurgency has continued to strengthen despite the killing of the
terrorist leader
al_zarqawi/index.html?inline=nyt-per> Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. 

Along with a sharp increase in sectarian attacks, the number of daily
strikes against American and Iraqi security forces has doubled since
January. The deadliest means of attack, roadside bombs, made up much of
that increase. In July, of 2,625 explosive devices, 1,666 exploded and
959 were discovered before they went off. In January, 1,454 bombs
exploded or were found. 

The bomb statistics - compiled by American military authorities in
Baghdad and made available at the request of The New York Times - are
part of a growing body of data and intelligence analysis about the
violence in Iraq that has produced somber public assessments from
military commanders, administration officials and lawmakers on Capitol

"The insurgency has gotten worse by almost all measures, with insurgent
attacks at historically high levels," said a senior Defense Department
official who agreed to discuss the issue only on condition of anonymity
because he was not authorized to speak for attribution. "The insurgency
has more public support and is demonstrably more capable in numbers of
people active and in its ability to direct violence than at any point in

A separate, classified report by the
ense_intelligence_agency/index.html?inline=nyt-org> Defense Intelligence
Agency, dated Aug. 3, details worsening security conditions inside the
country and describes how Iraq risks sliding toward civil war, according
to several officials who have read the document or who have received a
briefing on its contents.

The nine-page D.I.A. study, titled "Iraq Update," compiles the most
recent empirical data on the number of attacks, bombings, murders and
other violent acts, as well as diagrams of the groups carrying out
insurgent and sectarian attacks, the officials said.

The report's contents are being widely discussed among Pentagon
officials, military commanders and, in particular, on Capitol Hill,
where concern among senior lawmakers of both parties is growing over a
troubling dichotomy: even as Iraq takes important steps toward democracy
- including the election of a permanent government this spring - the
violence has gotten worse.

Senior Bush administration officials reject the idea that Iraq is on the
verge of civil war, and state with unwavering confidence that the broad
American strategy in Iraq remains on course. But American commanders in
Iraq have shifted thousands of soldiers from outlying provinces to
Baghdad to combat increased violence in the Iraqi capital. 

The increased attacks have taken their toll. While the number of
Americans killed in action per month has declined slightly - to 38
killed in action in July, from 42 in January, in part reflecting
improvements in armor and other defenses - the number of Americans
wounded has soared, to 518 in July from 287 in January. Explosive
devices accounted for slightly more than half the deaths.

An analysis of the 1,666 bombs that exploded in July shows that 70
percent were directed against the American-led military force, according
to a spokesman for the military command in Baghdad. Twenty percent
struck Iraqi security forces, up from 9 percent in 2005. And 10 percent
of the blasts struck civilians, twice the rate from last year. 

Taken together, the new assessments by the military and the intelligence
community provide evidence that violence in Iraq is at its highest level
yet. And they describe twin dangers facing the country: insurgent
violence against Americans and Iraqi security forces, which has
continued to increase since the killing on June 7 of Mr. Zarqawi, the
leader of the insurgent group
qaeda/index.html?inline=nyt-org> Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and the
primarily sectarian violence seen in Iraqi-on-Iraqi attacks being aimed
at civilians.

Iraq is now locked in a cycle in which strikes by Sunni Arab militants
have prompted the rise of Shiite militias, which have in turn aggravated
Sunni fears. Beyond that, many Sunnis say they believe that the new
Shiite-dominated government has not made sufficient efforts to create a
genuine unity government. As a result, Sunni attitudes appear to have

As the politics in Iraq have grown more polarized since the elections in
December, in which many Sunni Arabs voted, attacks have soared,
including sectarian clashes that have killed an average of more than 100
Iraqi civilians per day over the past two months. 

In addition to bombs, attacks with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades
and small-caliber weapons against American and Iraqi military forces
have also increased, according to American military officials. But the
number of roadside bombs - or improvised explosive devices as they are
known by the military - is an especially important indicator of enemy
activity. Bomb attacks are the largest killer of American troops. They
also require a network: a bomb maker; financiers to pay for the effort;
and operatives to dig holes in the road, plant the explosives, watch for
approaching American and Iraqi forces and set off the blast when troops

With the violence growing in Iraq, American intelligence agencies are
working to produce a National Intelligence Estimate about the security
conditions there - the first such formal governmentwide assessment about
the situation in Iraq since the summer of 2004. 

In late July, D.I.A. officials briefed several Senate committees about
the insurgent and sectarian violence. The presentation was based on a
draft version of what became the Aug. 3 study, and one recipient
described it as "extremely negative." That presentation was followed by
public testimony on Aug. 3 by Gen.
zaid/index.html?inline=nyt-per> John P. Abizaid, the top American
military commander in the Middle East, who told the Senate Armed
Services Committee that the sectarian violence was "probably as bad as
I've seen it, in Baghdad in particular" and said if it was not stopped,
"it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war." General Abizaid
later emphasized that he was "optimistic" that the slide toward civil
war could be prevented.

Officials who have read or been briefed on the new D.I.A. analysis said
its assessments paralleled both aspects of General Abizaid's testimony. 

The newest accounts of the risks of civil war may already be altering
the political dynamic in Washington. After General Abizaid's testimony,
the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator
ner/index.html?inline=nyt-per> John W. Warner of Virginia, said that if
Iraq fell into civil war, the committee might need to examine whether
the authorization provided by Congress for the use of American force in
Iraq would still be valid. The comments by Senator Warner, a senior
Republican who is a staunch supporter of the president, have
reverberated loudly across Congress.

Bush administration officials now admit that Iraqi government's original
plan to rein in the violence in Baghdad, announced in June, has failed.
The Pentagon has decided to rush more American troops into the capital,
and the new military operation to restore security there is expected to
begin in earnest next month.

Yet some outside experts who have recently visited the White House said
Bush administration officials were beginning to plan for the possibility
that Iraq's democratically elected government might not survive.

"Senior administration officials have acknowledged to me that they are
considering alternatives other than democracy," said one military
affairs expert who received an Iraq briefing at the White House last
month and agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity. 

"Everybody in the administration is being quite circumspect," the expert
said, "but you can sense their own concern that this is drifting away
from democracy." 

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