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March 17, 2007

The NYT's Strange Way Of Reporting That US Casualties Are Down In Iraq

A comedy of terrors. Now remember, US casualties in Iraq are actually down despite more aggressive tactics as well as putting troops out into more vulnerable positions (such as putting a platoon or two in a not-very-well-defended forward position out in a trouble area -- the Americans have a real presence out there, discouraging violence, but at an increased risk to their own lives).

So this is a win-win situation. American soldiers are reducing sectarian violence, reassuring locals who want peace, and waging more aggressive war on terrorists -- and yet, despite so many more of our troops now being deployed out in what were formerly No Man's Lands in barely-fortified positions, fewer are dying.

Here's how the NYT spins this as bad news-- by stating first not that fewer Americans are dying, but that a greater proportion are now dying in the surge areas:

The heightened American street presence may already have contributed to an increase in the percentage of American deaths that occur in Baghdad.

Over all, the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq from hostilities since Feb. 14, the start of the new Baghdad security plan, fell to 66, from 87 in the previous four weeks.

But with more soldiers in the capital on patrol and in the neighborhood garrisons, a higher proportion of the American deaths have occurred in Baghdad — 36 percent after Feb. 14 compared with 24 percent in the previous four weeks. Also over the past four weeks, a higher proportion of military deaths from roadside bombs have occurred in Baghdad — 45 percent compared with 39 percent.

Taranto asked yesterday that if the situation were reversed -- that more American soldiers were being killed, but that a lower proportion of soldiers were being killed in surge areas -- would the Times have tried spinning that as positive news?

Of course not. So why is this supposedly bad news?

Mickey Kaus doubts that it's even news of any sort of all -- obviously, troops are going to tend to suffer more casualties where there are more of them, and where they are more aggressively confronting the enemy. So the New York Times has whipped out it's calculator to confirm the expected, dog bites man, and they have elevated this bit of shabby mathatical spin to be the main take-away in its report.

It is breathtaking in its blatantness, and comical as well.


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posted by Ace at 08:56 PM

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