The message the President will deliver tonight is that persistent violence in Iraq does not mean that we aren’t making progress. (Rather, we should focus on the “political track.”) Of course, when it appeared violence was abating, the administration cited it as evidence of success against the insurgency.
Here is Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita on 3/3/05:
Q: Can I ask you about the fact that the casualty rate in Iraq for U.S. troops for February was apparently the lowest that it’s been since last July? I wonder how significant you think that is and what’s your analysis of why the number has gone down. Does it — what does it represent?
MR. DI RITA: Well, the commanders have spoken about their — the fact that the insurgencies are becoming — their capability is becoming somewhat cruder in its — in their ability to anticipate and target, because their — the coalition’s intelligence is getting better. And one of the reasons it’s getting better is because there are more and more Iraqi security forces directly involved in counterinsurgency activities….So I think you’re seeing also a growing public opposition to — and more — and people more willing to make public their opposition to the insurgency. And that’s almost certainly having an effect on the ability of the insurgents to operate with some — with impunity…
So, in March, the fact that violence went down was a sign that the insurgency was weakening, security forces were strengthening and Iraqi opposition was increasing. Now, as violence increases, we are told these issues are unrelated.