One element of the data that seems unambiguous is that you have many further attacks against American troops happening in Anbar province. This is related, clearly, to new partnerships between American forces and non-AQI insurgent groups in Anbar. Still, that leaves an open question as to the precise source of the reduction in violence. My sense is that surge-lovers would like us to believe that most of the pre-Awakening Anbar attacks were mounted by AQI and that the recent reduction in Iraq is a result of US-insurgent cooperation against AQI succeeding.
An alternative interpretation, however, is that AQI was always responsible for only a minority of attacks and that the reduction has happened because, in essence, we’ve started paying insurgent groups to stop attacking us. Now, either way, it’s good news that fewer American soldiers are being attacked, but, obviously, we could also stop insurgent attacks by just not being in Iraq at all.