Today, the American Enterprise Institute, a neoconservative think tank, held a discussion entitled “Assessing the Surge in Iraq,” featuring prominent Iraq war proponents like Fred Kagan, Gen. Jack Keane, and James Miller of the Center for a New American Security.
Bush’s escalation was largely inspired by a October 2006 paper written by Kagan, who stated that the U.S. needed to “re-enter Iraq in large numbers.” In today’s conference, Kagan claimed there was a “general agreement” that “violence overall is down” but refused to provide any factual evidence for those arguments:
The worst that can be said of [the escalation] at this point is that the results have been mixed. I frankly think the results are less mixed…We can argue about statistics, but at the end of the day, that argument is not going to get us anywhere right now. … Whatever you can say about the current strategy, it has not failed.
Desperate to defend his failing strategy, Kagan refused to provide statistical backup for his broad assertions that escalation is showing progress. In April, he claimed “we are turning a corner in Iraq,” again without statistical backup, only to see May become deadliest month for American troops this year.
Looking at some key statistics, it is clear that the escalation has been a bloody failure. Even by simply looking at the past couple of months — when Kagan alleges the escalation officially began — the situation has deteriorated:
— A recent bombing killed over 150 in Baghdad, “one of the deadliest single bombings, if not the deadliest, since the 2003 invasion.”
— 108 coalition soldiers died in June, the third deadliest month this year. So far in July, 28 have died.
— Approximately 2,600 Iraqi civilians died in June and 3,000 in May, up from 2,500 in February, when the first troops of the escalation began to arrive.
UPDATE: Laura Rozen has more from the AEI event.