Number Theory

Friday, November 16, 2007


For the past few months, the number of both Iraqi civilian and U.S. military casualties has dropped significantly. The numbers don't add up to victory yet, but some criticize the media for failing to report the trend. Bob takes a look at the coverage.

Comments [7]

Kerim Friedman from Hualien, Taiwan

While it is true that the violence is down, your report leaves the mistaken impression that this is the result of "the surge" despite little evidence for such a claim. The most likely explanation for the decline in violence in Baghdad is that ethnic cleansing has "succeeded" leaving nobody left to kill. Also, in Anbar province the Sunni factions have (at least temporarily) joined together against Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

This mistake is compounded by an interview which implies that because of the internet reporters no longer report "facts" which don't fit into a larger narrative. In attempting to present these numbers as an objective fact you bought into the dominant narrative about these numbers (as being the result of the surge) and failed to look at some very useful analysis available on ... the internet.

Nov. 21 2007 01:19 AM
Mack Lee from Winchester, MA

You’ve asked the wrong question yet again, and done a major disservice to your listeners. In answer to your own question, you have also proven yet again the media is conservative, not liberal. The question of whether the violence in Iraq is subsiding, or whether the surge is working is President Bush’s question and the Republican question. The media loyally continues to stay on Bush’s question while the rest of us want answers to the same, original questions that haven’t been answered after four years of war. Why are our troops fighting when there are no weapons of mass destruction, and when Sadam Hussein had no connections to Al Queada? Why is Ben Laden still free? If Ben Laden is believed to be in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan, why are there ten times as many troops in Iraq as in Afghanistan?
If, as Bush now claims, that we are fighting for democracy, why isn’t he calling for the invasion of Pakistan to depose Musharef, another ruthless and brutal dictator, that actually has nuclear weapons, and that harbors the Taliban and Al Queda? Why are a small group of Republicans allowed to sew fear and erode our civil liberties in the name of security? If Alan Greenspan and so many others are correct in saying that the war in Iraq is actually a war for oil, why would any of us want to send our children to fight and die for the profits of a few?

Nov. 20 2007 04:03 PM
Jim Reid from Allentown, PA

This whole discussion about "under-reporting" of casualty figures, complete with finger-pointing, amazingly left out the underlying reality of the Administration's iron-fisted control over the casualty figures--American and Iranian. This is the White House that does not even allow images of returning caskets in any media--lest we all start to figure out emotionally and rationally the tragic cost of Iraq. For Bush and his media lackeys to complain that drops in the rate of this loss of life is under-reported "good news" demonstrates how they turn logic inside-out and upside-down. It is disappointing that any of this nonesense is taken seriously. Media folk are not nearly as skeptical and probing as they should be.

Nov. 20 2007 12:20 PM
Russ Weiss from Princeton, NJ

Kudos to you Bob--a balanced and analytical examination of a complicated subject.

Incidentally, I appreciated your apt characterization of Rush Limbaugh as a demagogue. If it walks, talks, and quakes like a demagogue....

Nov. 18 2007 04:31 PM
Jan Brukman from NYC

Simply taking "a look at the coverage" will not do. That's the easiest, first cut. Lazy journalists never ask "why"? Why is the violence down? The elephant in the room trumpets "why?" Because there is no one left to kill. The appropriate enemies are dead (shia, sunni, whatever), in exile somewhere else in Iraq, or refugees in Syria, Jordan, or, what? Norway? The Anbar buying off of sunni insurgents is a meaningless sideshow. The upshot of all this is that the violence being down is an ominous signal of how really bad things are in Iraq, and how infinitely worse they will become. Partition has arrived, and awaits our leaving for the real civil war to begin.

Nov. 17 2007 08:34 AM
Jon88 from NYC

Limbaugh had paroxyms? Are those anything like paroxysms?

Nov. 17 2007 08:32 AM
Grace Babakhanian from New York City

My novel:

Beginning: He's dreamy. Middle: He snores. End: Hated him at first sight.

Nov. 17 2007 08:08 AM

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